Self-reported reasons for hand hygiene in 3 groups of health care workers

Am J Infect Control. 2012 Sep;40(7):653-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2011.08.014. Epub 2012 Jan 20.


Background: The hands of health care workers continue to be the main vector for nosocomial infection in hospitals. The purpose of the current research was to capture the health beliefs and self-reported behaviors of US health care workers to better understand why workers avoid hand hygiene and what prompts them to wash.

Methods: An online survey of health care workers assessed their reasons for washing their hands, reasons for not washing, and what cues prompted the decision to wash or not wash in a variety of locations.

Results: The findings were that hand hygiene could be cued by an external situation but tended to be motivated internally. Hand hygiene was avoided because of situational barriers.

Conclusion: The reasons for performing hand hygiene can be situated in the internally motivated Theory of Planned Behavior; however, the reasons for not performing hand hygiene tend to be situational and affected by the environment. The results may be used to design programs, products, and systems that promote appropriate hand hygiene practices. Principles for design of these programs and products are provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • Hand Hygiene / methods*
  • Hand Hygiene / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States