Hepatitis B (HBV) is a major public health issue with over 250 million people chronically infected worldwide. In Australia, prevalence is higher among migrant communities and these groups may be reticent to attend health care services due to concerns about experiencing stigma and discrimination. The way health workers perceive their clients, particularly those of migrant backgrounds, may influence the way they treat these clients and the quality of care provided. This study investigated and compared the attitudes and concerns health workers and health students have towards working with clients living with HBV.
Health workers (n=551) and students (n=199) completed an online survey which investigated attitudes towards people living with HBV, comfort with providing care for these clients, and concerns they have about working with them.
Health students expressed less comfort (U = 47,611, z = -2.73, p = 0.006) and reported more concerns about working with people with HBV than qualified health workers (U = 61,611.50, z = 2.64, p = 0.008). Students’ concerns were centred around their own ability to provide care rather than issues related to clients. There were no differences in overall attitudes towards people living with HBV between health workers and students.
To address concerns that health workers and students may have in working with people living with HBV, particularly those from migrant communities, and to ensure that health workers feel comfortable and confident, HBV workforce development should be included in undergraduate and postgraduate training programs as well as in continuing professional education. SO WHAT?: This will assist the health workforce to develop competency in the treatment of people living with HBV, with the ultimate aim of providing best quality, non-judgemental care to all people living with HBV.

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