Knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of healthcare workers in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to MERS coronavirus and other emerging infectious diseases

Abdullah J. Alsahafi, Allen C. Cheng

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Background: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has experienced a prolonged outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus since 2012. Healthcare workers (HCWs) form a significant risk group for infection. Objectives: The aim of this survey was to assess the knowledge, attitudes, infection control practices and educational needs of HCWs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to MERS coronavirus and other emerging infectious diseases. Methods: 1500 of HCWs from Saudi Ministry of Health were invited to fill a questionnaire developed to cover the survey objectives from 9 September 2015 to 8 November 2015. The response rate was about 81%. Descriptive statistics was used to summarise the responses. Results: 1216 HCWs were included in this survey. A total of 56.5% were nurses and 22% were physicians. The most common sources of MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) information were the Ministry of Health (MOH) memo (74.3%). Only (47.6%) of the physicians, (30.4%) of the nurses and (29.9%) of the other HCWs were aware that asymptomatic MERS-CoV was described. Around half of respondents who having been investigated for MERS-CoV reported that their work performance decreased while they have suspicion of having MERS-CoV and almost two thirds reported having psychological problems during this period. Almost two thirds of the HCWs (61.2%) reported anxiety about contracting MERS-CoV from patients. Conclusions: The knowledge about emerging infectious diseases was poor and there is need for further education and training programs particularly in the use of personal protective equipment, isolation and infection control measures. The self-reported infection control practices were sub-optimal and seem to be overestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1214
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2016


  • Attitudes
  • Behaviours
  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Health care workers
  • Knowledge
  • MERS-CoV
  • Practice

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