Relationship between patient safety climate and standard precaution adherence: a systematic review of the literature

J Hosp Infect. 2016 Apr;92(4):349-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2015.08.023. Epub 2015 Sep 25.


Standard precaution (SP) adherence is universally suboptimal, despite being a core component of healthcare-associated infection (HCAI) prevention and healthcare worker (HCW) safety. Emerging evidence suggests that patient safety climate (PSC) factors may improve HCW behaviours. Our aim was to examine the relationship between PSC and SP adherence by HCWs in acute care hospitals. A systematic review was conducted as guided by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis. Three electronic databases were comprehensively searched for literature published or available in English between 2000 and 2014. Seven of 888 articles identified were eligible for final inclusion in the review. Two reviewers independently assessed study quality using a validated quality tool. The seven articles were assigned quality scores ranging from 7 to 10 of 10 possible points. Five measured all aspects of SP and two solely measured needlestick and sharps handling. Three included a secondary outcome of HCW exposure; none included HCAIs. All reported a statistically significant relationship between better PSC and greater SP adherence and used data from self-report surveys including validated PSC measures or measures of management support and leadership. Although limited in number, studies were of high quality and confirmed that PSC and SP adherence were correlated, suggesting that efforts to improve PSC may enhance adherence to a core component of HCAI prevention and HCW safety. More clearly evident is the need for additional high-quality research.

Keywords: Healthcare-associated infection; Infection prevention; Safety climate; Standard precautions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Patient Safety*