Posting gross pictures of bacteria at handwashing stations increases compliance

It turns out, disgust is a pretty good motivator for driving compliance with handwashing regulations in clinical settings. That's according to new research to be presented June 11, at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology's 43rd annual conference in Charlotte, N.C.


A study conducted at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, involved taking samples of the bacteria on healthcare workers' hands in hospital units with low handwashing compliance, then showing the workers pictures of bacterial colonies similar to those found on their skin.



"Hospital staff wanted to wash their hands after looking at the book and picturing similar contamination on their own skin," Ashley Gregory, an infection prevention specialist who co-led the project, said in a statement. "Using this example, other institutions may be able to change behavior and improve their hand hygiene compliance rates by influencing staff to connect the images of microbial contamination with non-adherence to hand hygiene guidelines."

The units involved in the study demonstrated increased compliance between 11 percent and 46 percent. This isn't the first research to suggest a visual stimulant helps improve compliance. A study published earlier this year found that hanging an image of a man's staring eyes at handwashing stations was associated with a significant increase in the volume of hand hygiene solutions dispensed.

More articles on infection control:

Hand hygiene compliance spikes when using WHO method, study finds 
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Which advertising strategy prompts hand hygiene compliance most? 

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