Are nurses at Swedish Departments of Infectious diseases prepared to care for patients with African viral haemorrhagic fever? - A survey study

Sofia Jakobsson Blixt, Susann Gamalielsson, Katri Manninen


Background: The African viral haemorrhagic fevers have in recent years been the cause of large outbreaks with high mortality rates and elevated risks of global spread. These outbreaks put the Departments of Infectious diseases, both national and international, on high demand when caring for this patient group, in a patient- and staff-safe manner.  The aim of the study was to describe nurses’ perceived ability and knowledge about caring for patients with suspected or verified African viral haemorrhagic fever at Departments of Infectious diseases in Sweden.

Methods: A web survey was conducted to collect data. The results are presented through a descriptive design. The participants were registered nurses working in infectious diseases clinics; 216 survey results were registered.

Results: Registered Nurses in Swedish Departments of Infectious diseases witnessed having limited knowledge about the African haemorrhagic fevers. The respondents also perceived having limited or very limited knowledge about various practival procedures, such as drawing blood samples to confirm the infection. The majority of the participants had not been given theoretical education, nor had been given the opportunity to sufficiently practice using personal protective equipment at their place of work. The nurses perceived fear for their personal safety while caring for this group of patients.

Conclusions: The participants perceived fear, both limited theoretical and practical knowledge and training about caring for patients with African haemorrhagic fever, even though they had worked with infectious diseases for several years.  There is a need for implementation of measures to ensure the healthcare professionals' safety and to prevent them from being infected with potentially lethal infections. It also poses a risk for the patient in the absence of specific nursing care, which can lead to an increased critical disease state.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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