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Open Access Short Report

Knowledge sharing among healthcare infection preventionists: the impact of public health professionals in a rural state

Timothy Wiemken1*, Philip M Polgreen2, W Paul McKinney34, Julio Ramirez1, Emily Just4 and Ruth Carrico1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Louisville Division of Infectious Diseases, 501 East Broadway Suite 380, Louisville, KY, 40202, USA

2 University of Iowa Department of Infectious Diseases, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA, 52242, USA

3 Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, 485 East Gray Street, Louisville, KY, 40202, USA

4 University of Louisville Center for Health Hazards Preparedness, 485 East Gray Street, Louisville, KY, 40202, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:387  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-387

Published: 28 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Healthcare-associated infections are a major source of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Infection Preventionists (IPs) are healthcare workers tasked at overseeing the prevention and control of these infections, but they may have difficulties obtaining up-to-date information, primarily in rural states. The objective of this study was to evaluate the importance of public health involvement on the knowledge-sharing network of IPs in a rural state.

Findings

A total of 95 attendees completed our survey. The addition of public health professionals increased the density of the network, reduced the number of separate components of the network, and reduced the number of key players needed to contact nearly all of the other network members. All network metrics were higher for public health professionals than for IPs without public health involvement.

Conclusions

The addition of public health professionals involved in healthcare infection prevention activities augmented the knowledge sharing potential of the IPs in Iowa. Rural states without public health involvement in healthcare-associated infection (HAI) prevention efforts should consider the potential benefits of adding these personnel to the public health workforce to help facilitate communication of HAI-related information.

Keywords:
Knowledge sharing; Communication; Public health department; Healthcare-associated infections; Social network; Key player; Rural health; Information