Knowledge, attitudes and practices of oral health professionals with regard to the hepatitis B virus in their workplace, Harare
Objective: To assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of Harare oral health professionals regarding Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) in the workplace.
Design: A cross sectional study was conducted using a structured 36 item interviewer administered questionnaire to collect data from consenting participants.
Setting: The study was conducted at private and public dental practices in Harare.
Participants: Oral health professionals comprising dentists, dental therapists and technicians were purposively sampled and interviewed.
Results: Eighty nine study participants were interviewed. Seventy four (83%) and 69 participants (77.5%) knew about the potential transmission through contact with blood and saliva respectively. Forty seven (52.8%) participants knew that HBV infection is incurable. Thirty five participants (39.3%) were unaware of the ability of HBV to remain infective in dried blood. Although 22 participants (25%) stated that there was potential for transmission of HBV to patients at their workplace, 81participants (92%) felt they were at risk of contracting HBV infection at work. Sixty one participants (69%) reported being vaccinated, but on verifying the vaccine doses the participants received, 35 (39.3%) received three doses, 15(17%) two doses and 11 (12.4%) one dose. Forty six per cent of the fully vaccinated participants (16 of 35) had a post-HBV vaccination test. Seventy nine (87%) and 83(93.3%) professionals stated consistent use of face masks and gloves during procedures respectively.
Conclusion: Although the oral health professionals in Harare appreciated the risk of HBV transmission in dental settings, they had incomplete knowledge of HBV infection and there was poor uptake of HBV vaccination among these professionals.