Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Patients’ Health Motivates Workers To Wash Their Hands

31.08.2011
Can changing a single word on a sign motivate doctors and nurses to wash their hands?

Campaigns about hand-washing in hospitals usually try to scare doctors and nurses about personal illness, says Adam Grant, a psychological scientist at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

“Most safety messages are about personal consequences,” Grant says. “They tell you to wash your hands so you don’t get sick.” But his new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that this is the wrong kind of warning.

Hand-washing is an eternal problem for hospitals. Healthcare professionals know it’s the best way to prevent the spread of germs and diseases. But, on average, they only wash their hands about a third to a half of the time they come into contact with patients and germs.

Grant had done research in hospitals before, on topics like getting nurses to speak up about safety and reducing burnout among doctors. But when his first daughter was born, Grant’s attention was drawn to the hospital’s signs about hand-washing. “I noticed a real disconnect between what the signs were emphasizing and what I knew as a psychologist,” he says.

As a psychologist, Grant knew about “the illusion of invulnerability”—that most people think they aren’t at risk of getting sick. His own research had also shown that people aren’t motivated only by avoiding dangers for themselves; they also go to work because they want to protect and promote the well-being of others. The problem was, the signs warned about personal risks. These messages should fall on deaf ears among healthcare professionals, who are frequently exposed to germs but rarely get sick. “If I don’t wash my hands, I’ll be okay. But patients are a vulnerable group,” he says.

To test that, Grant and his coauthor, David Hofmann of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, came up with two signs to post over dispensers for soap and hand sanitizer. One said “Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases.” The other said “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.” They posted these signs above different dispensers in a hospital and recorded how often people washed, measuring how much soap and gel was used¯ and having trained observers spy on their colleagues.

The sign about patients was the winner. Healthcare professionals were much more likely to wash their hands if they were reminded that they were keeping patients safe. The patient sign increased soap and gel use by 33% per dispenser, and healthcare professionals were 10% more likely to wash their hands. The sign about personal risks did no good.

“Our findings challenge prevailing wisdom in the healthcare professions,” Grant says, “that the best way to get people to wash their hands is to scare them about their own health. Instead, his research demonstrates, you should remind them that hand-washing helps others.

A lot of interventions work well in the beginning, then drop off, and these studies only lasted two weeks. Grant suggests that future studies should test whether these signs would continue to work in the long term. It might be possible keep the message fresh by changing the signs frequently to mention different patients, or to use different slogans, like “Did you wash your hands? What if your mother was the next patient you saw?” Grant says. The punch line here is that it’s not all about me. To motivate people to engage in safety behaviors, we should highlight the consequences for others¯not only themselves.

For more information about this study, please contact: Adam M. Grant at grantad@wharton.upenn.edu.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "It’s Not All About Me: Motivating Hospital Hand Hygiene by Focusing on Patients" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or dmenon@psychologicalscience.org.

Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht New antibody analysis accelerates rational vaccine design
09.08.2018 | Scripps Research Institute

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular switch detects metals in the environment

15.08.2018 | Materials Sciences

Seeing on the Quick: New Insights into Active Vision in the Brain

15.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>