Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

First Advisor

Reimund C. Serafica

Abstract

Health effects from exposure to radiation are unpredictable. On a daily bases, nurses working in the perioperative setting are exposed to medical x-rays (ionizing radiation) and are vulnerable to its carcinogenic effects. Regardless of the potential health consequences, the use of protective equipment remains inconsistent among perioperative nurses. Most research studies regarding nurses' occupational health risks either failed to include or separate radiation exposure from chemicals and blood borne pathogens. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the attitudes and practices of perioperative nurses that influence their decisions to wear or not wear radiation protection equipment during surgical and postsurgical procedures that utilized ionizing radiation. The participants were a convenience sample of 13 perioperative nurses in a rural Western North Carolina hospital. The mean years employed as a nurse was 24 years. The study revealed that there was not a statistically significant relationship between the attitudes and behaviors of perioperative nurses effecting their decision to use or not use protective equipment. However, the research identified lack of time and equipment to be main reasons for non-compliance with utilizing radiation protection equipment. Secondly, of the 13 participants, over half, (53.8%), expressed a desire for more education, indicating a need for additional staff training regarding occupational radiation exposure.

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