Cross-culture perspectives on fear of HIV disease and AIDS in health care workers

Ekere James Essien, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Health care workers have been known to carry into the workplace a variety of judgmental and negative attitudes towards their patients. In no other area of patient care has this issue been more pronounced as in the management of patients with AIDS. Health care workers have refused to treat or manage patients with AIDS and have often treated them more harshly than identically described leukemia patients. Some health care institutions have simply refused to admit patients with AIDS and even recent applicants to medical colleges and schools of nursing have indicated a preference for schools in areas with low prevalence of HIV disease. Since the attitudes of health care workers do have significant consequences on patient management, this study was carried out to determine the differences in clinical practice in Nigeria and the United States of America as it relates to knowledge of a patient's HIV status, determine HIV prevalence and culture in each of the study sites and how they impact on infection control practices, determine the relationship between infection control practices and fear of AIDS, and also determine the predictors of safe infection control practices in each of the study sites. The study utilized the 38-item fear of AIDS scale and the measure of infection control questionnaire for its data. Questionnaires were administered to health care workers at the university teaching hospital sites of Houston, Texas and Calabar in Nigeria. Data was analyzed using a chi-square test, and where appropriate, a student t-tests to establish the demographic variables for each country. Factor analysis was done using principal components analysis followed by varimax rotation to simple structure. The subscale scores for each study site were compared using t-tests (separate variance estimates) and utilizing Bonferroni adjustments for number of tests. Finally, correlations were carried out between infection control procedures and fear of AIDS in each study site using Pearson-product moment correlation coefficients. The study revealed that there were five dimensions of the fear of AIDS in health care workers, namely fear of loss of control, fear of sex, fear of HIV infection through blood and illness, fear of death and medical interventions and fear of contact with out-groups. Fear of loss of control was the primary area of concern in the Nigerian health care workers whereas fear of HIV infection through blood and illness was the most important area of AIDS related feats in United States health care workers. The study also revealed that infection control precautions and practices in Nigeria were based more on normative and social pressures whereas it was based on knowledge of disease transmission, supervision and employee discipline in the United States, and thus stresses the need for focused educational programs in health care settings that emphasize universal precautions at all times and that are sensitive to the cultural nuances of that particular environment.

Subject Area

Occupational safety|Behaviorial sciences|Public health|Social psychology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Essien, Ekere James, "Cross-culture perspectives on fear of HIV disease and AIDS in health care workers" (1994). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9528245.