Experience of Exposure to Influenza A (H1N1) among Korean Nursing Students

Tuesday, 13 July 2010: 9:10 AM

Hee Sun Kang, PhD
Department of nursing, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea
Myung-Sun Hyun, PhD, RN
Collge of Nursing, Ajou University, Suwon, South Korea

Learning Objective 1: Learners will be able to describe the concerns related to the H1N1 virus.

Learning Objective 2: Learners will be able to identify the actions that may help students who are or may be infected with the H1N1 virus.

Purpose: Deaths from a novel strain of influenza A, H1N1, had increased around the world as well as in Korea. At present, due to an inadequate supply of antiviral drugs and vaccines, priority groups have been decided and health care workers are given the highest priority for access to scarce antiviral drugs and vaccines. The purpose of this study was to examine the experience of nursing students upon exposure to the strain of influenza A designated as H1N1.

Methods: Data were collected from nursing students at two universities in Korea using focus group interviews. Data were analyzed using content analysis to identify significant themes.

Results: The participants were 24 nursing students. Fourteen were infected with influenza A (H1N1) and took Tamiflu or Relenza. Five students suspected of infection with H1N1 were found to be negative.

Seven themes emerged from the collected data. They were (1) worry about becoming infected with the influenza A virus or spreading it to others, (2) ambivalence about taking anti-viral medications or receiving an anti-viral vaccine, (3) protecting oneself as well as others, (4) being hurt by others’ reactions, (5) relying on the school's health center for care, (6) worry about missing classes, and (7) concern over the high price to pay for treatment.

Conclusion: Participants worried about becoming sick or infecting clients while providing nursing care. Nursing students who have patient contact in a clinical setting should also be considered as those who require early vaccination. Most participants reported negative experiences related to virus exposure. Health care workers as well as family and friends should keep in mind that their verbal or nonverbal expressions can injure the feelings of others when special care and support are needed most. Furthermore, improvements in the coverage of costs and services are needed and would be helpful for students.