Is the person next to you washing their hands with soap?

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, looked at responses to electronic hygiene messages displayed in UK service station toilets.

A million people die every year from diarrhoeal disease and respiratory infection. Handwashing with soap is the cheapest and best way of controlling these diseases. It also prevents the spread of flu, and hospital-acquired infections such as Clostridium difficile. However, “it's difficult to know what kind of message is most effective at changing this everyday behaviour, so it's important to experimentally test what works best in a real setting. That way you can save money and make sure your programme will be effective prior to rolling out any public health campaign at great expense” says Robert Aunger, leader of the study.

A quarter of a million people were counted using the toilets and their use of soap was monitored by on-line sensors. Only 32% of men washed their hands with soap whilst women were twice as good, with 64% washing their hands.

A variety of messages, ranging from 'Water doesn't kill germs, soap does' to 'Don't be a dirty soap dodger', were flashed onto LED screens at the entrance of the toilets and the effects of the messages on behaviour were measured. 'Is the person next to you washing with soap?' was best overall, showing how people respond to whether they thought others were watching. There were intriguing differences in behaviour by gender, with women responding to reminders, while men tended to react best to messages that invoked disgust, for example 'soap it off or eat it later'.

Gaby Judah, who ran the study said: “Our findings are particularly important on Global Handwashing Day, when many agencies concerned with improving health worldwide by encouraging people to wash their hands with soap will be looking to use best practice.” Global Handwashing Day is on 15th October.

Global Handwashing Day is 15 October and will involve more than 70 countries around the world, with the aim of improving handwashing practices. It is mainly focussing on children, as they are affected the most by diseases spread by poor hygiene.

Media Contact

Gemma Howe EurekAlert!

More Information:

http://www.lshtm.ac.uk

All latest news from the category: Studies and Analyses

innovations-report maintains a wealth of in-depth studies and analyses from a variety of subject areas including business and finance, medicine and pharmacology, ecology and the environment, energy, communications and media, transportation, work, family and leisure.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Neurons: How RNA granules grow and shrink

LMU scientists have shown that small aggregates function as temporary RNA repositories, which are regulated by neural activity. Cells constantly have to adapt the level of activity of certain genes…

Custom ‘headphones’ boost atomic radio reception 100-fold

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have boosted the sensitivity of their atomic radio receiver a hundredfold by enclosing the small glass cylinder of cesium atoms…

New tech aims to drive down costs of hydrogen fuel

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for extracting hydrogen gas from liquid carriers which is faster, less expensive and more energy efficient than previous approaches….

Partners & Sponsors