Moment-specific compliance with hand hygiene

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Hand hygiene is an important component of patient-safety education. The World Health Organization recommends the use of hand hygiene measures at five clinical moments. While previous studies have treated hand hygiene as a single entity, we investigated whether and how the compliance of students may vary across the five clinical moments. We also studied their reasons for non-compliance with a view to inform teaching.


A voluntary self-administered questionnaire survey was conducted on a convenient sample of 339 medical and nursing students. The five clinical moments studied were: before touching a patient (moment 1); before a clean/aseptic procedure (moment 2); after body fluid exposure risk (moment 3); after touching a patient (moment 4); and after touching the patient's surroundings (moment 5).


The overall reported compliance rate was 83.0 per cent. The compliance rates were significantly lower at moments 1 and 5. Nursing students reported better overall compliance (p = 0.01), and at moments 2 (p = 0.0001) and 3 (p = 0.0001), than medical students. Medical students fared better at moment 4 (p = 0.009). The most common reason reported for non-compliance was ‘forgetfulness’.


We identified differences in compliance rates across the five clinical moments of hand hygiene. Education programmes should not treat the hand hygiene process as a single entity, but should adopt a moment-specific approach to promote recall, with particular emphases on moments 1 and 5. Nursing and medical students may require different education strategies. Future studies on hand hygiene may also adopt a moment-specific approach.

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