A web-based infectious diseases communication system to enhance health care workers' knowledge, attitude, and risk perception about safe work practices

F. Verhoeven*, M.G.R. Hendrix, A.W. Friedrich, I. Daniels-Haardt, N. Nijland, M.F. Steehouder, J.E.W.C. van Gemert-Pijnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Currently, infectious disease communication systems are more content-driven than useroriented. In order to be effective, the system has to provide reliable, adequate information, and should enable health care workers (HCWs) to make the right decisions. Here, web-based communication systems can be an effective instrument [1]. To build such a system, it is necessary to investigate HCWs’ knowledge, attitude, and risk perception concerning safe work practices.

Objective: To develop a web-based infectious disease communication system based on the available national Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) policy, to enhance HCWs’ knowledge, attitude, and risk perception concerning safe work practices.

Methods: A validated questionnaire was used to get a general impression of HCWs’ knowledge, attitude, and risk perception about safe work practices regarding MRSA. This general impression was further analyzed by scenario-based tests with HCWs. Both approaches provided us with HCWs’ key questions concerning safe work practices. To further fit HCWs’ needs, the questions were categorized into groups by the Card Sort Method and analyzed by WebSort software in order to provide a usercentered search structure for the web-based communication system. The study was conducted among physicians, nurses, and domestic staff in four hospitals in Germany and the Netherlands.

Results: The results of 276 questionnaires showed inadequate levels of knowledge (97% of respondents) and risk perception (24%) about safe work practices, and negative attitudes (63%) toward complying with these practices. The 28 additional interviews demonstrated that lack of knowledge is mainly related to being uninformed about transmission routes of MRSA (14%), resulting in an inadequate perception of the personal risk to obtain and transmit MRSA (10%). A negative attitude is caused by HCWs questioning the usefulness of adhering to safe work practices (14%). These factors lead to non-compliance with safe work practices. HCWs seem to favor a more personal and social approach of safe work practice documents, stressing personal risks and the rationale behind applying the practices. In sum, 134 key questions were found about which the knowledge, the attitudes or the risk perceptions were unsatisfactory. The web-based communication system should address these questions. The Card Sort Method (n = 12) resulted in ten categories in which the key questions can be grouped. HCWs are best served with a web-based system in which they can actively search these questions in their own language both via a search engine and a table of contents representing HCWs’ terminology and information needs.

Conclusion: Our study indicated that the used mixed-methods design provides a powerful approach to analyze HCWs’ key questions concerning safe work practices, and provides us with a search structure for a user-centered web-based communication system. HCWs’ involvement in the development of webbased communication systems might encourage compliance with safe work practices [2,3]. This remains subject for further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-367
Number of pages2
JournalTechnology and health care
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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