False consensus and accuracy of perceptions of nurses regarding universal precaution practices

L J Burns, Christina Knussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to investigate the presence of the false consensus effect (FCE) in relation to nurses' self-reported use of universal or standard precautions (UPs) and risk-related beliefs. The study also aimed to investigate the accuracy of estimated consensus. The sample consisted of nurses (N¿=¿301) from a variety of specialities. Through self-report questionnaires, respondents were presented with a list of 10 behaviours and beliefs (of which eight were used in the analysis). They were asked to indicate whether they performed the behaviour or held the belief, and, separately, to estimate the percentage of peers who would do so. Independent sample t-tests (comparing “subscribers” with “non-subscribers” to each behaviour or belief) revealed a significant FCE on all items: subscribers always estimated a significantly greater consensus for the position than did non-subscribers. Significant deviation from accuracy was found on all items, and significant differences were found on seven of the eight items between subscribers and non-subscribers in their deviations from accuracy. In addition to theoretical implications, the results are discussed in terms of the implications for educational intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-354
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • false consensus effect
  • universal precaution practices
  • nurses


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