Ethnographic study on medical injections in Egypt

Since our case-control studies consistently identified medical injections as a risk factor for HCV transmission in Egypt, we sought to understand better the contextual elements surrounding the practice of unsafe medical injections. The purpose of this study was to investigate the social, labor, and institutional contexts of medical injections, and how they may contribute to practices facilitating HCV transmission. It also assessed the feasibility of an expanded ethnographic study of medical injections in various settings (hospitals, clinics, pharmacies) in Greater Cairo, Egypt. Specifically, in hospital, clinic and pharmacy settings, we explored healthcare workers’ labor conditionsand the social, political, and economic relations with healthcare facility staff, patients, and families affecting theirwork; the availability (and constraints) on workplace resources; medical material disposal understandings and practices; understandings of hygiene, sterility, asepsis, and dirt, and the translation of these concepts into daily practices. 


We focused primarily on nurses because they are largely, though not exclusively, responsible in hospitals and clinics for practices associated with an elevated risk of HCV transmission. They are also the most numerous among healthcare workers in hospitals. Our working hypothesis was that HCV transmission results in hospitals from multiple and changing “contextual factors”, involving supply shortages, work stress, night shifts, fissures in team cohesion, gaps in training and limitations on nurses’ capacities to put their training into practice.


The team conducted research among healthcare personnel in the Ain Shams University Hospitals from March through July 2012; transcription, translation, and analysis are ongoing. We used several ethnographic methods, including in-depth individual interviews with nurses (26 total), physicians (4), dentists (5) and pharmacists (5); short open-ended interviews with patients attending outpatient clinics (8 total); informal discussions with Infection Control program managers and health personnel in Ain Shams Hospitals; group discussion with nurses (1); and five participant-observations of daily clinic operations in five divisions of the Hospital.


Note: This study has now been completed and results will be posted here soon


Back to Past Research


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fp7_01fp7_02 This project is funded
by the European Union