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Testing an Intervention to Decrease Healthcare Workers’ Exposure to Antineoplastic Agents

Catherine Graeve

Patricia M. McGovern

Susan Arnold

Martha Polovich
workplace issues, chemotherapy, health policy
ONF 2017, 44(1), E10-E19. DOI: 10.1188/17.ONF.E10-E19

Purpose/Objectives: To develop and test a worksite intervention that protects healthcare workers who handle antineoplastic drugs from work-related exposures.

Design: Intervention study.

Setting: A university hospital in a large midwestern metropolitan area and its outpatient chemotherapy infusion clinic.

Sample: 163 staff (nurses, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians) who work with antineoplastic agents.

Methods: A self-report survey measured workplace and individual factors to assess use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Wipe samples were tested for surface contamination. An intervention incorporating study findings and worker input was developed.

Main Research Variables: PPE use was the dependent variable, and the independent variables included knowledge of the hazard, perceived risk, perceived barriers, interpersonal influence, self-efficacy, conflict of interest, and workplace safety climate.

Findings: PPE use was lower than recommended and improved slightly postintervention. Self-efficacy and perceived risk increased on the post-test survey. Chemical residue was found in several areas. Awareness of safe-handling precautions improved postintervention. The unit where nurses worked was an important predictor of safety climate and PPE use on the pretest but less so following the intervention.

Conclusions: Involving staff in developing an intervention for safety ensures that changes made will be feasible. Units that implemented workflow changes had decreased contamination.

Implications for Nursing: Worksite analysis identifies specific targets for interventions to improve antineoplastic drug handling safety.

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