Background: Although hand dermatitis (HD) is a common occupational problem among hospital nurses, few epidemiological studies of this disease have been conducted in regional areas or tropical environments.
Aim: The aim of our investigation was, therefore, to investigate HD prevalence and correlates among nurses within a unique Australian setting.
Design: We recruited a cohort of 148 female nurses from a large tertiary hospital in north Queensland, Australia, and administered a previously validated, self-reporting HD questionnaire.
Results: The 12-month period prevalence ranged from 43.2% to 59.3%, with an overall group mean of 50.0%. There were no statistically significant differences in HD prevalence between the different hospital wards (p=0.4238). During multiple logistic regression, a history of allergic rash was shown to increase the HD risk 5.5-fold (odds ratio: 5.5, 95% CI: 1.9-19.2, p=0.0038). The risk of HD was also related to increased hand washing frequency (OR 5.8, 95% CI: 1.1-33.4, p=0.0402).
Conclusions: Overall, the occurrence of HD among Australian nurses was relatively consistent across the various hospital wards. Their 12-month period-prevalence of HD was, however, generally higher than previous reports from other countries.