The association between handwashing practices and illness symptoms among college students living in a university dormitory

Am J Infect Control. 2009 Feb;37(1):70-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2007.12.008. Epub 2008 Oct 3.


We describe handwashing practices, the association of handwashing with upper respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms, and the effects of gender on handwashing practices among male (n = 215) and female (n = 243) college students. Self-reported frequency of handwashing was not associated with infectious illness symptom reporting. Only a small proportion of males (10%) and females (7%) reported "always" washing their hands before eating. Females were more likely than males to always wash their hands after urinating (69% vs 43%; P < .0001) and after a bowel movement (84% vs 78%; P = .14). Identifying new strategies to increase handwashing may help prevent infectious disease transmission in residence hall environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology*
  • Gastroenteritis / prevention & control
  • Hand Disinfection*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Students
  • Universities
  • Young Adult