Evaluation of infection control advice for patients at risk of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia in 2 pediatric oncology centers: Cape Town, South Africa, and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK

Andrea Woolner, Alan Davidson, Rod Skinner, Derek King

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Childhood cancers are treated with myelotoxic chemotherapy. Resultant neutropenia can lead to life-threatening infections. There is no consistent guidance on infection control precautions for neutropenic patients who are not yet febrile or infected. Although it is not possible to eradicate infection risk, it is conceivable that the risk could be reduced by effective infection prevention. This study compared infection control measures advised to pediatric and adolescent oncology patients receiving chemotherapy in 2 centers (Cape Town, South Africa, and Newcastle, UK). Prospective, observational, cross-sectional surveys of staff and patients/parents were undertaken using standardized, study-specific questionnaires. Seventy-eight staff and 56 patients/parents participated. Precautions advised in Newcastle were significantly different to Cape Town (all P < .05), except both agreed inpatient isolation was unnecessary. Over 40% of patients/parents felt isolation was important (P < .01). In Cape Town, staff and patients had similar views. In Newcastle, patients/parents had stricter opinions on particular precautions than staff, for example, attending school, playing outside and avoiding busy places (P < .01). Patient/parent responses were similar between centers. Over 90% of staff felt advising patients/parents about hand washing was important. Currently infection prevention advice is inconsistent. Further research is needed to elucidate effective guidance for infection prevention in pediatric neutropenic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalPediatric Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012



  • adolescent
  • antineoplastic agents
  • cancer care facilities
  • child
  • child, preschool
  • cross-sectional studies
  • female
  • Great Britain
  • hospitals, pediatric
  • humans
  • infection
  • infection control
  • male
  • neoplasms
  • neutropenia
  • questionnaires
  • risk factors
  • South Africa

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