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How Behavior Change Strategies Can Help Prevent Hospital Infections

MAR 31, 2017 | KRISTI ROSA
Examples of predisposing factors consist of: knowledge (awareness, understanding risks of hospital infections and the consequences of taking preventive action), attitudes (believing that preventive actions are very important), beliefs (believing that adherence to prevention standards will, in fact, make a difference), confidence (providers are confident that they can stand up to patients who insist on unnecessary antibiotics and will not prescribe them), and identity (how much a professional identity is entwined with preventive behaviors).

Examples of enabling factors consist of: skills (ways to encourage or even oppose one another pertaining to preventive practices), barriers/obstacles (some healthcare workers might hesitate to stay home from work when ill due to staffing shortages or fear of being perceived as unreliable), policies and culture (what are the key values of the organization), social and professional norms (will an organization give their workers recognition even if they do not excel at preventing hospital infections?), and systems, infrastructure, and design (sometimes safeguards that are put into place by healthcare organizations can vary).

Examples of reinforcing factors are: benefits/rewards (are healthcare workers recognized when they do prevent hospital infections? Do they get rewarded?), and conversely, consequences (if they do not reinforce preventive practices to ward off hospital infections, are there repercussions?).

Dr. Kreuter stressed that there are a few ways that behaviors vary; some are complex (making changes to diet) and some are simple (putting on your seatbelt); some are done only annually (such as vaccination) and some are done every day (handwashing). Some benefits of a behavior are certain (save money so that it accrues) and some are not (vaccination does not offer surefire protection). Some benefits of a behavior are immediate (brush teeth and my mouth feels cleaner), some are more long-term (eating healthier to prevent a heart attack). Some behaviors benefit the person directly (wearing a helmet protects individual personally from a crash) and some benefit others (smoking outside so children do not inhale it). When it comes to a behavior that is in accordance with social norms, it may be easier to perform than those that are not so widely accepted. So, how does this apply to preventing hospital infections?

Big advances in treatment can