Date of Award

Spring 3-16-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Patricia C. Clark

Second Advisor

Cecelia G. Grindel

Third Advisor

Karen Gieseker


Problem: Nurses are potentially exposed to hazardous drugs (HDs) in their practice. HD exposure is associated with adverse outcomes (reproductive problems, learning disabilities in offspring of nurses exposed during pregnancy, and cancer occurrence). Safe handling precautions (safety equipment and personal protective equipment, [PPE]) minimize exposure to HDs and decrease the potential for adverse outcomes. Despite existing OSHA recommendations, adherence to precautions is below recommendations. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships among factors affecting nurses’ use of HD safe handling precautions, to identify factors that promote or interfere with HD precaution use, and to determine nurse managers’ perspectives on use of safe handling precautions. This study used a conceptual model which proposes that both individual and organizational factors influence precaution use. Methods: A cross-sectional, correlational design was used. Nurses (N = 165; 46% response rate) from oncology centers across the US who reported handling chemotherapy completed a mailed survey. Instruments measured HD precaution use, knowledge, self efficacy, barriers, perceived risk, conflict of interest, interpersonal influences and workplace safety climate. Hierarchical regression was used. Twenty managers of nurses handling chemotherapy were interviewed. Results: Nurses were experienced in oncology (M = 15.8 ± 7.6) yrs, well-educated (62.5% ≥BSN), certified in oncology nursing (85%), worked in outpatient settings (69%), and on average treated 6.8 ± 5.2 patients per day. Chemotherapy exposure knowledge was high (M = 10.9, ± 1, 0-12 scale); as was self efficacy for using PPE (M = 20.8 ± 3, 7-24 scale), and perceived risk (M = 3.14 ± .6, 0-4 scale). Total precaution use during HD administration and disposal was low (M = 1.9, SD = 1.1, 0= never to 5 = 100%). Nurse characteristics did not predict HD precaution use. In the final model (R2 = .29, F (2, 155) = 24.6, p < .000), fewer patients per day, fewer barriers and better workplace safety climate were independent predictors of higher precaution use. Conclusions: Results emphasize the importance of organizational influence on nurses’ HD safe handling precaution use and suggest fostering a positive workplace safety climate and reducing barriers as interventions.