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What techniques are recommended to undertake procedures that require asepsis? Content and cluster analysis of information supplied in international guidance.

BACKGROUND: Health professionals frequently conduct procedures requiring asepsis but there is no definitive evidence-based guidance on how aseptic technique should be undertaken.

OBJECTIVE: To undertake content and cluster analysis to compare and contrast information relating to the conduct of aseptic technique in national and international guidance.

METHODS: Content and hierarchical cluster analysis.

RESULTS: We identified 16 sources of information from: organizations that generate infection prevention guidelines, provide advice about infection prevention in addition to other topics, generate guidance for procedures (e.g., wound care); practice manuals; MeSH and Wikipedia. Content related to: theory underpinning aseptic technique; terminology used; how and when it should be undertaken; and equipment. The nature and amount of information varied widely. Most frequently stated information related to: environment or equipment (N = 13), followed by the absolute nature of asepsis and the importance of hand hygiene (N = 10); general personal protective equipment, the significance of pathogens, and no-touch techniques (N = 8); that it is risk-based (N = 7); the existence of key parts or sites, and that there are different types of aseptic technique (N = 6). The most comprehensive sources were a wound care organization in the USA, and a British internationally used textbook. Least information was provided in some general infection prevention guidelines.

CONCLUSION: Progress with research and practice in relation to aseptic technique suffers through lack of common goals and understanding. This study is one step towards establishing what constitutes aseptic technique, how and when it should be conducted, and the equipment necessary. This is required to support practice, policy and education, and may improve sustainability of healthcare resources.

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