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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. Vol. 12, Iss. 10, October 2015

Health Care Workers’ Knowledge, Perceptions, and Behaviors Regarding Antineoplastic Drugs: Survey From British Columbia, Canada


Although nurses are knowledgeable regarding the risk of exposure to antineoplastic drugs, they often do not adhere with safe work practices. However, the knowledge, perceptions, and behavior of other health care job categories at risk of exposure has yet to be determined. This study aimed to survey a range of health care workers from British Columbia, Canada about their knowledge, perceptions, and behaviors regarding antineoplastic drugs. A self-administered questionnaire was sent to participants querying the degree of contact with antineoplastics, knowledge of risks associated with antineoplastics, perceptions of personal risk, previous training with respect to antineoplastics, and safe work practices. Subjects were recruited from health care facilities in and around Vancouver. Fisher's exact tests were performed to ascertain whether there were differences in responses between job categories. We received responses from 120 participants representing seven different job categories. Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and nurses were more knowledgeable regarding risks than other job categories examined (statistically significant difference). Although 80% of respondents were not afraid of working with or near antineoplastics, there were concerns about the suitability of current control measures and practices employed by co-workers. Only half of respondents felt confident that they could handle all situations where there was a potential for exposure. Only one of the perception questions, self-perceived risk of exposure to antineoplastic drugs, differed significantly between job categories. Not all respondents always wore gloves when directly handling antineoplastic drugs. Further, hand hygiene was not regularly practiced after glove usage or after being in an area where antineoplastic drugs are handled. The majority of responses to questions related to safe work practices differed significantly between job categories. Our results suggest that knowledge regarding risks associated with antineoplastic drugs can be improved, especially among job categories that are not tasked with drug preparation or drug administration. There is also a gap between knowledge and compliance with glove usage and hand hygiene.Training is also recommended to improve health care workers’ perceptions of the risks associated with antineoplastic drugs.


Antineoplastic drugs, behaviors, health care workers, knowledge, occupational exposure, Perceptions

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