Positive deviance and hand hygiene of nurses in a Quebec hospital: What can we learn from the best?

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Although it is well known that hand hygiene is the most effective measure to prevent health care–associated infections, hand hygiene adherence is low in Quebec, as it is elsewhere. For this study, an innovative framework was used to explore the clinical practice of nurses regarding hand hygiene and the factors that influence it: positive deviance, or the idea that there are people who find better solutions to problems than their peers. This study investigated positive deviance at the level of the care team to shed light on group dynamics.


We conducted focused ethnographies on 2 care units—a medical-surgery unit and a palliative care unit—at a Montreal university hospital. Data collection consisted mainly of systematic observations and individual interviews with nurses.


The results show that positive deviance related to hand hygiene is instigated by social cohesion within a care team, created, in this study, by the mobilizing leadership of the head nurse in the medical-surgery unit and the prevailing humanist philosophy in the palliative care unit.


In health care, it can be useful to apply the positive deviance approach to care teams instead of individuals to better understand the ideologic and structural differences linked to better hand hygiene performance by the nurses.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles