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

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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.


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.


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).


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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