Original Research

Do nursing students know and practise the Universal Precautions to prevent transmission of infectious agents?

Lindy S. van der Berg, Felicity M. Daniels
Curationis | Vol 36, No 1 | a99 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v36i1.99 | © 2013 Lindy S. van der Berg, Felicity M. Daniels | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 February 2012 | Published: 28 August 2013

About the author(s)

Lindy S. van der Berg, School of Nursing, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Felicity M. Daniels, School of Nursing, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

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Background: Nursing students, like other healthcare students, are at high risk of occupational exposure to blood and bodily fluids. Studies have shown that use of the Universal Precautions(UPs) lowers this risk, but do students know and practise these precautions?

Objectives: This study investigated the knowledge and practice of undergraduate nursing students regarding the UPs, and whether there was a correlation between knowledge of the UPs and their practice.

Method: This was a descriptive quantitative study amongst undergraduate nursing students in years 2–4 (n = 253), who were selected by means of stratified random sampling. A questionnaire was administered to the participants by the researcher. The data collected were analysed through use of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 16.0) and content analysis.

Results: It was established that there was indeed a lack of knowledge regarding the UPs,and that the students’ self-reported practice of the UPs was poor. There was no statistically significant correlation between knowledge and practice of the UPs.

Conclusion: More structured educational programmes are needed to improve both knowledge and practice of the UPs. These programmes should be offered across all nursing student study years as continuous professional development.


knowledge; practice; universal precautions; nursing students; needlestick injuries


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