Health Professionals' Knowledge and Understanding about Listeria monocytogenes Indicates a Need for Improved Professional Training
Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease in immunocompromised persons, with a public health burden of approximately $2 billion annually. Those consumers most at risk are the highly susceptible populations otherwise known as the immunocompromised. Health professionals have a considerable amount of interaction with the immunocompromised and are therefore a valuable resource for providing appropriate safe food handling information. To determine how knowledgeable health professionals are about Listeria monocytogenes, a nationwide Web-based survey was distributed targeting registered nurses (RNs) and registered dietitians (RDs) who work with highly susceptible populations. Responses were received from 499 health professionals. Knowledge and understanding of Listeria monocytogenes was assessed descriptively. Parametric and nonparametric analyses were used to detect differences between RNs and RDs. The major finding is that there are gaps in knowledge and a self-declared lack of understanding by both groups, but especially RNs, about Listeria monocytogenes. RDs were more likely than RNs to provide information about specific foods and food storage behaviors to prevent a Listeria infection. Notably, neither group of health professionals consistently provided Listeria prevention messages to their immunocompromised patients. Pathogens will continue to emerge as food production, climate, water, and waste management systems change. Health professionals, represented by RNs and RDs, need resources and training to ensure that they are providing the most progressive information about various harmful pathogens; in this instance, Listeria monocytogenes.
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