Individual differences in judgments of hand hygiene risk by health care workers

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The hand hygiene practices of health care workers (HCWs) have long been the main vector for nosocomial infection in hospitals. The purpose of this study was to examine influences on risk judgment from the individual differences in knowledge levels and health beliefs among US HCWs.


Knowledge levels were assessed by questions taken from published questionnaires. The health locus of control scale was used to characterize internal health beliefs. HCWs assessed the risks of pathogen transfer in situations that varied according to the surface touched and the person doing the touching.


HCWs reported lower risk assessments for touching surfaces compared with touching skin. Risk assessment was influenced by individual differences, including in knowledge level and internal health locus of control.


Our data describe the individual differences of HCWs related to hand hygiene in ways that can be used to create targeted interventions and products to improve hand hygiene.

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