Knowledge, attitude and behaviour toward MRSA: results from a survey among biomedical students and the general population
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- De Giusti, M., La Torre, G., Aurigemma, C. et al. J Public Health (2011) 19: 527. doi:10.1007/s10389-011-0430-6
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The spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is of increasing concern, especially for particular populations such as school or university students. This study compares the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards MRSA skin infections between a group of medical and public health students who attend courses and practice in a teaching hospital setting to a general population group represented by their family members, cohabitants and friends.
In the period March–April 2009, a survey was conducted on 166 students and their cohabitants (182). After informed consent, a self-administered questionnaire was given to each participant, containing questions concerning socio-demographic (age, gender, educational level, job activity) and leisure-time items (physical activity) as well as knowledge regarding the localisation, symptoms, means of transmission of a MRSA infection, susceptible groups, therapeutic and diagnostic aspects, and the correct behaviour for preventing transmission to others. All the students were belonging to medical and public health Technician school in a teaching hospital setting.
Study participants were 116 biomedical students and 182 family members, cohabitants and friends. The comparison among the levels of knowledge revealed a significant difference between the two groups. One-third (30.1%, 50/166) p = 0,006 of biomedical students ignore the anatomical site of MRSA infection while 20.5% (34/166) do not known the determinants involved in increasing the risk and ignore the possible development resistance to the antibiotics of S. aureus causing intractable infection (p = 0,001). Regarding attitude and behaviour toward MRSA, the distribution of answers were statistically different among the two groups in the questions regarding the diagnosis, the choice of the person to be seen if infected and the question on the prevention measures to be adopted in case of infection. Moreover, more than half of the participants are willing to pay 100 € (the maximum amount proposed) to have the best care in case of staph infection.
Most of the participants had a poor or even a very poor knowledge of the pathogen, mechanism of transmission, risk determinants and preventive measures. There is a strong need to implement targeted educational programs within current university curricula and for the general population.