Date of Award

Summer 8-1996

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Community & Environmental Health


Community Health Education

Committee Director

A. James English

Committee Member

LaMarr G. Beuchler

Committee Member

Faye E. Coleman

Committee Member

Stephen G. Hooker

Committee Member

J. David Branch, III

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.C48 H37


A limited number of studies have been conducted to assess the perceptions of risk of medical students and residents for acquiring Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) via percutaneous (needlestick) injuries while performing clinical training. The purpose of this study is to investigate these perceptions of risk, and to determine whether there is an association between a high perception of risk and a low incidence of needlestick injury. The method of investigation was a four-page survey questionnaire. The instrument was investigated for reliability by use of a pilot study with a small group of medical students and residents at a medical school in Norfolk, Virginia. The survey instrument was then redesigned accordingly, and administered by anonymous mailings to 351 medical students in their third and fourth year of study, and all residents in their first and second year of residency. Questions asked included demographics, level of training, and number of needlestick (hollow-needle) injuries or other sharps injuries (e.g., suture needles and suture blades). The majority of questions asked each individual to rate their degree of concern or their personal perception of risk of acquiring HIV /HBV from needlestick or other "sharps" injuries received during clinical phases of their training. Questions also addressed their personal beliefs about occupational transmission of these bloodborne pathogens, and use of protective barriers. All were measured on a Likert scale where the student was asked to indicate his/her agreement or disagreement with each statement, where 1 = "strongly disagree" to 4 = "strongly agree." Questionnaires were returned anonymously by the students via self-addressed stamped envelopes to the investigator. The response rate was 37%. All data was collected, stored, and analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSSx).

It was found that the independent variable of risk perception scores was not associated with the number of needlestick injuries, the dependent variable, and that by itself, only the independent variable of study year was significantly associated with the number of needlestick injuries. Additionally, a statistically significant difference was found between the non-reporting and reporting behaviors of the study population. Rates of nonreporting ranged 44 - 75% for needlestick injuries. Because the non-reporting rates of the medical students and residents under study were significantly high, it is recommended that additional education programs be established, and measures taken which will reduce or change the perception that a needlestick injury or body fluid splash is of little consequence.


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