ABSTRACT: This paper is a report of a study measuring attitudes of primary care nurses towards caring for people with hepatitis C. Background. Hepatitis C is a major public health problem. Attitudes to caring for people with hepatitis C vary and can have an impact on nursing care practices. International literature has identified discriminating practices amongst healthcare professionals including nurses. There is limited research examining primary care nurses' attitudes to caring for people with hepatitis C.
Methods: A cross-sectional postal census survey of 981 nurses working in one health board region in the Republic of Ireland was conducted during the period March 2006 to June 2006.
Results: A response rate of 57•1% (n = 560) was achieved. Exploratory factor analysis of an attitude scale identified three latent variables: 'infection control behaviour', 'caring' and 'fear'. Attitudes were generally positive towards caring for persons with hepatitis C; however, 51•7% of respondents would use additional infection control precautions if caring for someone with known hepatitis C. Younger nurses and those educated to degree level and above held significantly more positive attitudes to caring. Nurses agreed that they have a central role in managing and treating people with hepatitis C; however, many agreed that they lack the knowledge and skills to care for persons with hepatitis C.
Conclusions: Negative attitudes can result in discriminatory experiences for persons with hepatitis C or at risk. Nurses require ongoing education on hepatitis C to improve knowledge, to limit concerns and ensure adherence to infection control guidelines.