n Southern African Journal of Critical Care - Knowledge of intensive care nurses in selected care areas commonly guided by protocols

Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-8264
  • E-ISSN: 2078-676X



To assess the knowledge of nurses working in intensive care units (ICUs) in respect of pain management, glycaemic control and weaning from mechanical ventilation.

An analytical, cross-sectional survey design was used. All ICU-trained and non-ICU-trained registered nurses (=136) working in the ICUs of selected public and private hospitals were invited to participate.
The knowledge of both the ICU-trained and non-ICU-trained nurses was found to be lacking. The overall mean score (standard deviation) obtained was 47.56% (11.61). The ICU-trained participants obtained 50.11% (11.96) and non-ICU-trained participants obtained 45.01% (10.75). This difference, although small, was statistically significant (=0.0099). A poor relationship was found between level of knowledge and years of ICU experience.
Nurses lack knowledge in the three care areas tested. ICU nurses' experience cannot be relied upon as a source of knowledge for decision-making about protocol-directed care. It is suggested that on-going educational programmes be introduced into ICUs to address this shortfall in knowledge.

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