Patient, Public, and Healthcare Professionals’ Sepsis Awareness, Knowledge, and Information Seeking Behaviors: A Scoping Review* Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: Sepsis awareness and understanding are important aspects of prevention, recognition, and clinical management of sepsis. We conducted a scoping review to identify and map the literature related to sepsis awareness, general knowledge, and information-seeking behaviors with a goal to inform future sepsis research and knowledge translation campaigns. DESIGN: Scoping review. SETTING: Using Arksey and O’Malley’s methodological framework, we conducted a systematic search on May 3, 2021, across four databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Education Research Complete). Title/abstract and full-text screening was done in duplicate. One researcher extracted the data for each included article, and a second researcher checked data accuracy. The protocol was registered on Open Science Framework ( SUBJECTS: Articles related to sepsis awareness, knowledge, and information seeking behaviors among patients, public, and healthcare professionals. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Of 5,927 unique studies, 80 reported on patient (n = 13/80;16.3%), public (n = 15/80;18.8%), or healthcare professional (nurses, physicians, emergency medical technicians) (n = 48/80; 60%) awareness and knowledge of sepsis. Healthcare professional awareness and knowledge of sepsis is high compared with patients/public. The proportion of patients/public who had heard of the term sepsis ranged from 2% (Japan) to 88.6% (Germany). The proportions of patients/public who correctly identified the definition of sepsis ranged from 4.2% (Singapore) to 92% (Sweden). The results from the included studies appear to suggest that patient/public awareness of sepsis gradually improved over time. We found that the definition of sepsis was inconsistent in the literature and that few studies reported on patient, public, or healthcare professional knowledge of sepsis risk factors. Most patient/public get their sepsis information from the internet, whereas healthcare professionals get it from their role in healthcare through job training or educational training. CONCLUSIONS: Patient, public, and healthcare professional awareness and knowledge of sepsis vary globally. Future research may benefit from a consistent definition as well as country-specific data to support targeted public awareness campaigns.


  • Fiest, Kirsten M
  • Krewulak, Karla D
  • Brundin-Mather, Rebecca
  • Leia, Madison P
  • Fox-Robichaud, Alison
  • Lamontagne, François
  • Leigh, Jeanna Parsons

publication date

  • August 2022