Identifying essential infection control competencies for newly graduated nurses: a three-phase study in Australia and Taiwan
Background Healthcare- and hospital-acquired infection increases patients' morbidity and mortality and increases healthcare costs. Infection prevention and control is a high priority for medical professionals in healthcare settings. Aim To identify essential infection prevention and control competencies for newly graduated nurses. Methods Three phases of research were designed: phase I, Instrument development, which was undertaken from January to May 2008; phase II, Expert panel identification, for which 122 experts were recruited, each nominated by presidents of infection control bodies and heads of nursing schools in Australia (N = 60) and Taiwan (N = 62); and phase III, Delphi surveys, which were conducted in three rounds simultaneously in Australia and Taiwan between July 2008 and May 2009. Findings Ninety-three experts returned the first questionnaire. Response rates of 76.2%, 91.4% and 94.1% were achieved in rounds I, II and III, respectively. Eighty experts participated in all three rounds. Overall, 81 items reached consensus, including seven in the competency area of basic microbiology, 12 in hand hygiene, 30 in standard precautions and additional precautions, 12 in personal protective equipment, nine in cleaning, disinfection and sterilization and 11 in critical assessment skills. The majority of experts (N = 49; 75.4%) agreed that infection control competency levels of newly graduated nurses were inadequate. Conclusion Eighty-one items of infection prevention and control specific to newly graduated nurses were identified by consensus between expert panellists from Taiwan and Australia. Baseline data from this study may help to develop undergraduate nursing curricula to facilitate nurses' clinical application of infection control principles.