Predictors of asking medical personnel about handwashing: The moderating role of patients’ age and MRSA infection status

Luszczynska, Aleksandra and Gunson, Keely S. E. (2007). Predictors of asking medical personnel about handwashing: The moderating role of patients’ age and MRSA infection status. Patient Education and Counseling, 68(1) pp. 79–85.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2007.05.008

Abstract

Objective: The study investigates patients’ behaviours protective of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), asking doctors and nurses about handwashing before examination, and its relations with the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) variables and knowledge. We expected that MRSA infection status and age might moderate relations between the behaviour and its predictors.
Methods: A total of 171 individuals (59% with MRSA; 54% of 65 years or older) who had contact with the Patients Association and MRSA Support groups filled out questionnaires.
Results: Across the groups beliefs about ability to control own behaviour were the best predictors of intention and behaviour, except for nonMRSA patients older than 65 years, for whom knowledge about MRSA infection remained the sole predictor of behaviour. The amount of explained variance of behaviour was twice as high among younger patients compared to older ones.
Conclusions: The study indicates limitations of the predictive value of the TPB among older patients. The results support the importance of beliefs about ability to control own behaviour in predicting an error-preventive action.
Practice implications: Enhancing control beliefs may promote asking medical personnel about handwashing. Interventions aiming MRSA prevention should target different cognitions or knowledge depending on patients’ age and MRSA infection status.

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