KNOWLEDGE, PRACTICES AND CONCERNS ON THE USE OF MEDICAL GLOVES AMONG DENTAL AND MEDICAL STUDENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI
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ABSTRACT Background: Regardless of one’s profession, it is critical to note that pathogenic micro-organisms exist around us and can spread easily through direct or indirect contact from one person to another. Chemical substances that can cause severe skin irritation when handled with bare hands are incorporated in various materials that we use daily. It is therefore very important, especially for dental and medical students, to have adequate knowledge on the use of medical gloves especially with regard to aspects such as types, quality, appropriate sizes, tactile sensitivity and associated allergic reactions. It is also very important that the gloving technique employed by the students be appropriate for the type of procedure being carried out such as double gloving practices for surgical procedures with high risk of infection transmission. Study design: A descriptive cross-sectional study using University College based study groups. Objective: To determine the knowledge, practices and concerns on the use of medical gloves among dental and medical students of the University of Nairobi. Study area: The study was conducted at the School of Dental Sciences and the School of Medicine of the University of Nairobi. Study population: The study population comprised undergraduate students from the School of Dental Sciences and the School of Medicine of the University of Nairobi. Methodology: Simple random sampling method was used to select a sample of one hundred and forty students. The sample size was calculated using an appropriate formula. 60 students were selected from the School of Dental Sciences and 80 students from the School of Medicine. Self administered questionnaires were distributed to all the selected 140 students. Variables of this study included gender, level of study, degree course, knowledge on various aspects of medical gloves, practice of medical glove use and concerns on the use of medical gloves. The data was analyzed using SPSS 17.0 and MS EXCEL software and presented using charts, tables and text. Results 58 (55.2%) students used non sterilized examination gloves during their clinical sessions while 76 (61.3%) used the same in the laboratory. This represented the main type of medical gloves used by students. 97 (78.2%) students used gloves made from latex, 26 (21%) did not know the material from which their regular medical glove was made and 1 (0.8%) used gloves made from low latex protein content. Of the students who used gloves made from latex, 8 (8%) felt the level of tactile sensitivity achieved using latex gloves was very high compared to other materials, 15 (16%) felt the level of tactile sensitivity was the same as the other types, 4 (4%) felt it was very low, 38 (39%) had never used medical gloves made from the other materials, and 32 (33%) did not know. 81 (55%) students had ever heard of latex allergy while 43 (35%) had never heard of latex rubber allergy. The prevalence rate of latex rubber allergy among dental and medical students of the University of Nairobi was determined as 2.4%. 34 (49%) students practiced single gloving during surgery as opposed to 31 (44.9%) who practiced double gloving. During their clinical sessions, 64 (78%) students practiced single gloving as opposed to the 7 (8.5%) who practiced double gloving. 95 (85.6%) students practiced single gloving in the laboratories. 58 (47.5%) students routinely changed their gloves during one procedure while 64 (52.5%) students did not. Only 25 (48%) students who were provided gloves by their school got their correct hand size while the remaining 27 (52%) did not. Of the 27 students who did not usually get their correct hand size, 17 (63%) felt the gloves provided by their schools were too large while 10 (37%) felt they were too small. With regard to the concerns raised by students in their daily usage of medical gloves, 88 (71%) students had a problem of powder staining with the powder used to coat the inside of the glove. 42 (33.9%) students had the problem of inappropriate glove sizes. 17 (13.7%) students had difficulty in donning and removing the gloves. 3 (2.4%) students had latex rubber allergy. 10 (8.1%) students had a problem of inadequate sensitivity. 8 (6.5%) students found the rubbery feel of gloves irritating. 2 (1.6%) students exhibited digital fatigue. 4 (3.2%) students did not like the smell on their hands after using gloves. 10 (8.1%) students did not face any challenges in the use of medical gloves. Conclusions 1. Knowledge among dental and medical students on types, quality and tactile sensitivity of medical gloves was low. 2. Majority of the students studied did not employ the recommend practices of glove use. 3. The prevalence rate of latex rubber allergy among dental and medical undergraduate students of the University of Nairobi was low i.e. 2.4%. Recommendations 1. The management of the schools studied should consider incorporating the subject of medical gloves in the curriculum. 2. Strict rules and guidelines should be set in place in both schools to ensure appropriate gloving practices in surgery, clinics and laboratories so as to improve quality of work and enhance safety. 3. The schools should consider a complete transition from latex medical gloves to latex free varieties such as neoprene and polyisoprene as a safety enhancement measure.