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Improving the supervision of infection control procedures in a head injury treatment center through planned monitoring and feedback

Robert Arnold Babcock, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Previous studies have indicated that feedback improves staff compliance with preventive practices in health care settings. This study examined the steps needed to establish frequent use of feedback by supervisors to direct service workers about infection control practices in a head-injury treatment program. Nurses were trained to provide written feedback to nursing assistants about the use of gloves to avoid contact with body fluids. The primary dependent variables were the number and content of forms completed by nurses. Training for nurses was followed by low rates of written feedback. A weekly intervention provided nurses with group and individual goals and feedback and contingent letters of appreciation to managers. This process-focused condition increased nurses' use of feedback forms. However, feedback was used by nurses primarily to mention unobserved aspects of infection-control practice. Additional information was included in the weekly intervention: Nurses were shown grouped data on assistants' accuracy in specific performances and the number of feedback forms nurses completed to mention these performances. This process and outcome focused condition resulted in some changes in the forms completed by nurses. Increased completion of feedback forms by nurses was correlated with increased numbers of gloves supplied to the unit. Individual use of gloves also increased in some cases. Observations of assistants' performances showed some signs of improvement as well. Thus, feedback by nurses was judged to be an effective intervention. However, difficulties in measuring infection control practices limited the assessment of the influence of feedback from nurses about specific performances. The written feedback format was very useful in making otherwise private interactions partially measurable. In a survey at the end of the project, assistants rated the feedback from nurses as being accurate and said that they would appreciate receiving feedback in the future. However, both most subjects indicated a preference for oral instead of written and oral feedback from nurses.

Subject Area

Psychology|Experiments|Occupational psychology|Psychology|Health care|Nursing

Recommended Citation

Babcock, Robert Arnold, "Improving the supervision of infection control procedures in a head injury treatment center through planned monitoring and feedback" (1989). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9011694.