Comparative studies of hand disinfection and handwashing procedures as tested by pupils in intervention programs

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Abstract

Background:

The objective of this study was to determine the effect of mandatory, scheduled hand disinfection (HD) on actual absenteeism because of infectious illness in elementary school pupils in Denmark.

Methods:

A 3-month intervention study between 2 schools was performed on 656 pupils ages 5 to 15 years. The pupils at the intervention school (IS; n = 318) were required to disinfect their hands 3 times during school hours. Those at the control school (CS; n = 338) continued their usual handwashing (HW) practices, but they had been IS regarding mandatory HW the previous year. All absences because of illness were recorded, and data were analyzed statistically.

Results:

Comparison between the IS and itself (CS in 2007) demonstrated a significant difference (P = .018) in reducing absenteeism because of infectious illness, both for girls (P = .011) and boys (P = .029). The CS (IS in 2007) did not show any difference between 2007 and 2008 (P = .86).

Conclusion:

Intervention with mandatory HW may have a lasting pedagogical effect in reducing absenteeism because of infectious illness when exposed to role models. HD could be effective in reducing absenteeism because of infectious illness and a well-placed supplement to HW.

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