Compliance with universal precautions in correctional health care facilities

Robyn R.M. Gershon, Christine D. Karkashian, David Vlahov, Leslie Kummer, Christine Kasting, Judith Green-McKenzie, Jose A. Escamilla-Cejudo, Newton Kendig, Anthony Swetz, Linda Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There were three main objectives of this cross-sectional study of Maryland State correctional health care workers. The first was to evaluate compliance with work practices designed to minimize exposure to blood and body fluids; the second, to identify correlates of compliance with universal precautions (UPs); and the third was to determine the relationship, if any, between compliance and exposures. Of 216 responding health care workers, 34% reported overall compliance across all 15 items on a compliance scale. Rates for specific items were particularly low for use of certain types of personal protective equipment, such as protective eyewear (53.5%), face mask (47.2%) and protective clothing (33.9%). Compliance rates were highest for glove use (93.2%) waste disposal (89.8%), and sharps disposal (80.8%). Compliance rates were generally not associated with demographic factors, except for age; younger workers were more likely to be compliant with safe work practices than were older workers (P < 0.05). Compliance was positively associated with several work-related variables, including perceived safety climate (ie, management's commitment to infection control and the overall safety program) and job satisfaction, and was found to be inversely associated with security- related work constraints, job/task factors, adverse working conditions, workplace discrimination, and perceived work stress. Bloodborne exposures were not uncommon; 13.8% of all respondents had at least one bloodborne exposure within the previous 6 months, and compliance was inversely related to blood and body fluid exposures. This study identified several potentially modifiable correlates of compliance, including factors unique to the correctional setting. Infection-control interventional strategies specifically tailored to these health care workers may therefore be most effective in reducing the risk of bloodborne exposures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-189
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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