Compliance with universal precautions in correctional health care facilities

J Occup Environ Med. 1999 Mar;41(3):181-9. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199903000-00007.


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 (i.e., 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Facilities* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Maryland
  • Middle Aged
  • Prisons* / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universal Precautions* / statistics & numerical data