Healthcare workers' perceptions of occupational exposure to blood-borne viruses and reporting barriers: A questionnaire-based study

S. A. Winchester, S. Tomkins, S. Cliffe, L. Batty, Fortune Ncube, M. Zuckerman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at significant risk of exposure to blood-borne viruses (BBV). Aim: To investigate HCW perceptions concerning occupational exposures to BBV and possible barriers involved in reporting incidents. Methods: A total of 120 HCWs based at the Dental Institute, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, completed an anonymous questionnaire as part of a multicentre study. Findings: Eighty-six percent (99/115) of respondents worried about developing a BBV infection at work. Of those who feared hepatitis C virus (HCV) the most, 69% (31/45) also believed that HCV posed the greatest risk to their health, versus 53% (10/19) and 13% (5/40) with regard to hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV infection, respectively (P < 0.001). Of respondents with ≥21 years of health service experience, 75% (18/24) knew the risk of HIV transmission versus 13% (2/16) of respondents with <5 years of health service experience (P = 0.002). All (23/23) respondents with ≥21 years of service were aware of HIV PEP versus 20% (12/60) with <21 years of service. Ninety-two percent of respondents (104/113) agreed that it was important to report all body fluid exposure incidents but only 58% (28/48) had reported all their exposure incidents. Fifty-nine percent (60/102) agreed that an electronic reporting system would improve reporting of such incidents. Conclusions: This study identified a need to improve HCWs' knowledge of BBV infection risks and their management. Data gathered in this study will be used to inform the development of a web-based system for the surveillance of occupational exposures to BBV in the UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-39
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Healthcare Infection Society .

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Blood-borne viruses
  • Exposure
  • Healthcare workers
  • Reporting
  • Surveillance


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