Study: Following the hand hygiene leader

Senior health professionals and mentors play an important role in improving hand hygiene compliance, according to a study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

To study how social dynamics influence compliance, researchers examined nearly 3,000 opportunities for hand hygiene at four adult inpatient care units at a single tertiary care hospital over a two week span in February 2014.

Observers collected data on four hand hygiene opportunities: upon patient room entry, after exiting patient rooms, before putting on gloves and after glove removal. Successful hand hygiene was defined as the use of soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.

Observations were categorized as either "group" — when two or more healthcare workers were presented with the same hand hygiene opportunity at the same time — or "individual." Groups and individuals with and without leaders were observed.

The researchers found compliance was marginally higher among groups with (53 percent) or without leaders (57 percent) than among individuals (49 percent). They also found significantly higher compliance among group members whose leaders practiced hand hygiene (71 percent) than among groups whose leaders did not (29 percent).

"Medical students imitate the hand hygiene practices of their superiors, which often leads to low hand hygiene compliance when superiors fail to perform hand hygiene," wrote study authors. "Further, healthcare workers (and others) change behavior when they are being observed. Therefore, role models who are actively present may have a strong influence on healthcare workers' behaviors, including hand hygiene."



More articles on hand hygiene:
Hand hygiene compliance: An internationally shared mission
Hospital executives identify strategies to improve hand hygiene: 7 takeaways
Compliance with WHO's hand hygiene alcohol rub technique: 4 findings

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