"Somebody else's problem?" Staff perceptions of the sources and control of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Am J Infect Control. 2011 May;39(4):284-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2010.06.018. Epub 2010 Oct 28.


Background: Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is endemic within the United Kingdom health care sector. Recent campaigns to reduce health care-associated infection have rested on increasing staff accountability and ownership of the problem and its solutions. However, the existence of reservoirs of colonization in the community now creates ambiguity about sources, which may undermine preventative strategies.

Methods: The theoretical framework of causal attribution was applied to explore staff biases in perceptions and effects on infection control behaviors on both sides of the hospital/care home interface. Forty-four staff from 1 acute care hospital and 53 staff from 6 care homes estimated prevalence, risk, and sources of MRSA. Focus groups (6 care home and 8 hospital) were used to elicit group perceptions.

Results: Staff tended to attribute the causes of MRSA to external (not self) human factors including patient risk factors and poor infection control practices of others. Teams tend to attribute their "successes" in infection control to dispositional attributions (good team policy and performance) and attribute "lapses" to situational factors (client group, patient movement, work pressures).

Conclusion: Variations in information needs, ownership, and infection control practices could be addressed by better interorganizational working and support for staff teams to assess their own responses to the problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • United Kingdom