Background: Hand hygiene (HH) is a primary practice used to reduce the risk and spread of infection. The authors conducted a study to examine the self-reported knowledge, attitudes and practices of general practice dentists (GPDs) regarding HH and factors associated with HH and skin condition.
Methods: The authors mailed a four-page closed-ended questionnaire to a random sample of active GPDs drawn from a list supplied by the New York State Dental Association. The authors classified eight GPDs as ineligible, leaving a net sample of 352. They received 234 responses, for a response rate of 66 percent.
Results: At the start of the practice day, 71 percent of GPDs often/almost always/always washed with soap but never/almost never disinfected with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Twenty-two percent often/almost always/always washed with soap and disinfected with alcohol-based hand sanitizers. GPDs with good/excellent knowledge of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings were more likely to report acceptable HH behavior. Approximately one-third of GPDs had limited/ moderate knowledge of the CDC HH guideline.
Conclusions: Most GPDs use soap and water for HH frequently, and a smaller number of GPDs use alcohol-based hand sanitizers for HH frequently. Results show that 25 percent of GPDs or fewer maintain inadequate HH. Knowledge of the CDC HH guideline needs to be heightened. Practice Implications. Further education of the dental community is warranted to improve HH compliance, efficacy of HH practices and skin health.