King's College London
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Adherence to protective measures among healthcare workers in the UK: a cross-sectional study

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posted on 2024-02-21, 11:26 authored by Louise SmithLouise Smith, James RubinJames Rubin

Background: Healthcare workers (HCWs) are frontline responders to emergency infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19. To avoid the rapid spread of disease, adherence to protective measures is paramount. We investigated rates of correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE), hand hygiene and physical distancing in UK HCWs who had been to their workplace at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and factors associated with adherence.

Methods: We used an online cross-sectional survey of 1035 UK healthcare professionals (data collected 12–16 June 2020). We excluded those who had not been to their workplace in the previous 6 weeks, leaving us with a sample size of 831. Respondents were asked about their use of PPE, hand hygiene and physical distancing in the workplace. Frequency of uptake was reported descriptively; adjusted logistic regressions were used to separately investigate factors associated with adherence to use of PPE, maintaining good hand hygiene and physical distancing from colleagues.

Results: Adherence to personal protective measures was suboptimal (PPE use: 80.0%, 95% CI 77.3 to 82.8; hand hygiene: 67.8%, 95% CI 64.6 to 71.0; coming into close contact with colleagues: 74.7%, 95% CI 71.7 to 77.7). Adherence to PPE use was associated with having received training about health and safety in the workplace for COVID-19, greater perceived social pressure to adopt the behaviour and availability of PPE. Non-adherence was associated with fatalism about COVID-19 and greater perceived difficulty of adopting protective measures. Workplace design using markings to facilitate distancing was associated with adherence to physical distancing.

Conclusions: Uptake of personal protective behaviours among UK HCWs at the start of the pandemic was variable. Factors associated with adherence provide insight into ways to support HCWs to adopt personal protective behaviours, such as ensuring that adequate PPE is available and designing workplaces to facilitate physical distancing.


NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emergency Preparedness and Response

National Institute for Health Research

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Participants were recruited from YouGov’s online research panel (n=800000+ UK adults) and were eligible if they were 18 years or older, lived in the UK and worked in the healthcare sector (self-reported). For this study, we excluded participants who reported that they had not been to their place of work in the last 6 weeks. Quota sampling was used, based on occupational group with targets set to reflect the NHS staff survey. Ethical approval was granted by the King’s College London Research Ethics Committee (reference: LRS-19/20–19184).

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