Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Indigenous Health


Hospital-acquired infection (HAI) is a major public health concern throughout the global healthcare community. A growing body of literature shows that large numbers of hospitalized patients worldwide acquire infections during their hospital stay.

Nurses have a major responsibility for infection control as part of their daily patient care activities. They play a significant role in ensuring that appropriate practices are in place to meet the infection control standards in their institutions. Therefore, competency in infection control is a crucial component for implementing best practice for nurses to ensure patient safety and provide high quality care.

This study aimed to identify essential infection control competencies for newly graduating nurses and was undertaken in Taiwan and Australia, and sought to obtain general and universal expert views that may be applicable globally.

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.

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 7 in the competency area of basic microbiology, 12 in hand hygiene, 30 in standard precautions and additional precautions, 12 in personal protection, 9 in cleaning and disinfection/sterilization and 11 in critical assessment skills. The majority of experts (n=49; 75.4%) agreed that newly graduating nurses were not competent in infection control and that their level of knowledge and application was inadequate.

Eighty-one items of infection prevention and control for newly graduating nurses were identified by panellists through the 3 round Delphi surveys. Results may help to develop undergraduate nursing curricula to facilitate nurses’ clinical application of infection control principles.