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This article is part of the supplement: International Conference on Prevention & Infection Control (ICPIC 2011)

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The WHO glove use pyramid: knowledge gaps among Belgian nurses

D De Wandel12*, D Vogelaers3 and S Blot23

  • * Corresponding author: D De Wandel

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health care, University College Ghent, Ghent, Belgium

2 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

3 Department of General Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium

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BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 6):P114  doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S6-P114

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:29 June 2011

© 2011 De Wandel et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Introduction / objectives

Appropriate glove use is a cornerstone in effective hand hygiene programs. Nurses’ knowledge regarding appropriate glove use has only rarely been studied in Belgium.


We developed a questionnaire based on the WHO glove use pyramid. The pyramid was used as campaign material for the most recent national hand hygiene campaign (end of campaign May, 2009). The final questionnaire contained 36 glove use indications with four response alternatives: “no gloves indicated”, “non-sterile gloves indicated”, “sterile gloves indicated” and “I do not know”. Demographic data such as sex, age, years of nursing experience and type of ward where respondents worked, were also collected. The questionnaire was completed during class by nurses following a Bachelor-after-Bachelor’s course in the spring of 2009.


The questionnaire was filled out by exactly 100 nurses (response 100%). Maximum score was 94%, minimum 22%. The median total knowledge score (scoreTOT) was 81% (IQR 75-86). Some of the most striking gaps in knowledge were;

- 18% do not wear gloves when performing a venal puncture

- 37% wear gloves when providing basic hygienic care and 18% wear no gloves when performing genital care (as a part of hygienic care)

- 29% will manipulate vascular catheters without gloves, 24% use sterile gloves

- 58% prepare cytostatics with non-sterile gloves

The median scoreTOT for all acute care wards was 81% (IQR 78-85), respondents providing chronic or extramural care scored 75% (IQR 71-83). This difference was statistically significant (Mann whitney U test P<0.001).


We identified several knowledge gaps concerning appropriate glove use in Belgian healthcare workers. Nurses working in acute care wards scored significantly higher compared to nurses working in other wards.

Disclosure of interest

None declared.