Public perceptions of the use of gloves by healthcare workers and comparison with perceptions of student nurses

Wilson, Jennie ORCID:, Bak, Aggie, Whitfield, Andrea, Dunnett, Andrew and Loveday, Heather ORCID: (2017) Public perceptions of the use of gloves by healthcare workers and comparison with perceptions of student nurses. Journal of Infection Prevention, 18 (3). pp. 123-132. ISSN 1757-1774

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Introduction: There is emerging evidence that non-sterile clinical gloves (NSCG) are over-used by healthcare workers (HCW) and associated with a risk of cross contamination because they are put on too early and removed too late. The purpose of this study was to determine student nurses’ approach to their use and the perceptions and preferences of the public.

Methods: A cohort of third-year student nurses were asked to complete a questionnaire and indicate for which of 46 clinical tasks they would routinely wear gloves and what influenced their decision to use them. Factor analysis was used to explore correlations between tasks. Members of the pubic were asked to complete the online survey aiming to explore their recent experiences of healthcare and their attitudes towards HCW wearing gloves.

Results: A total of 67 student nurses completed the questionnaire. Inconsistencies in responses were observed and gloves were reported being routinely worn for procedures with a low risk of contact with blood and body fluid. The exploratory factor analysis identified correlations related to four factors – procedures perceived to be risky, definitive indications, procedures related to personal hygiene and some low risk procedures. Most students (94%) indicated their own judgment influenced their decision to wear NSCG. The public survey was completed by 142 people. Many were uncomfortable with HCW using gloves for personal tasks but 94% preferred their use for washing ‘private parts’. Responses were broadly comparable with those of student nurses. 29% had observed inappropriate use of gloves during a recent episode of healthcare treatment and 20% had challenged a HCW about their glove use.

Conclusions: Student nurses reported using NSCG appropriately for procedures involving a risk of contact with BBF, however a significant proportion also routinely used NSCG for a wide range of low risk tasks and procedures for which they are neither required nor recommended. Members of the public feel uncomfortable with HCW wearing gloves for some personal care but strongly prefer their use for contact with ‘private parts’ such as the genitals.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1177/1757177416680442
Additional Information: The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Journal of Infection Prevention by Sage Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017. It is available at:
Keywords: Gloves, infection prevention, hand hygiene, patient experience, student nurses
Subjects: Medicine and health > Microbiology
Medicine and health
Medicine and health > Nursing
Depositing User: Jennie Wilson
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2017 15:05
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 15:52


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