Hand hygiene: Attitudes and practices of nurses, a comparison between 2007 and 2015

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Abstract

Background:

Hand hygiene reduces health care–associated infections significantly. However, international evidence suggests that practices are suboptimal. The objective of this study was to compare and contrast hand hygiene attitudes and practices and alcohol-based handrub (ABHR) use among nurses between 2007 and 2015.

Methods:

In 2007, a random sample of nurses in a large teaching hospital was invited to complete a postal survey using a validated questionnaire. In 2015, the study was replicated among all nurses employed in a university hospital group, including the setting of the original study. Data were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively using appropriate software.

Results:

Attitudes to hand hygiene were positive and >90% of respondents' self-reported compliance before and after patient contact. However, 13% fewer in 2015 (42%) reported using ABHR >90% of the time compared with in 2007 (55%). Of nurses with <2 years' experience, 90% reported using ABHR >50% of the time compared with 73% of nurses with 2-5 years' experience. Barriers to ABHR improved, but remained high (skin sensitivity: 2007: 23%, 2015: 17%; skin damage: 2007: 18%, 2015: 13%; poor user acceptability and tolerance: 2007 and 2015: 25%).

Conclusions:

Use of positive role models, the adoption of a positive social and cultural norm within the organization, and the provision of continuing professional development opportunities may prove useful strategies in harnessing good practice among graduate nurses and in preventing negative socialization from occurring.

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