Which advertising strategy prompts hand hygiene compliance most?

Although the attention on hand hygiene compliance in healthcare settings has increased in the past decade, little attention has been paid to the the type of messages used to promote hand hygiene, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers led by Ronald E. Taylor, PhD, of the University of Tennessee School of Advertising and Public Relations in Knoxville, evaluated a total of 86 healthcare workers to find out which types of message strategies were easiest to understand, most believable and most likely to lead to increased handwashing.

Dr. Taylor evaluated six message strategies, including those that appeal to ego, social, sensory, routine, acute need or ration. Of the six, the social strategy — which suggests handwashing will win the attention, approval, admiration, love and respect of others — was the most likely to prompt increased handwashing.

The study also revealed the sensory strategy — which appeals to a person's five senses — was seen not only as the least likely to improve hand hygiene compliance, it was counterproductive.

"[Infection control preventionists] should add a social message strategy to communication programs promoting hand hygiene," concluded Dr. Taylor. "Although further testing is needed, ego, routine and acute need strategies show promise for tapping into motivations that lead to improved compliance."



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