Impact of environmental olfactory cues on hand hygiene behaviour in a simulated hospital environment: a randomized study

J Hosp Infect. 2013 Sep;85(1):79-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2013.06.008. Epub 2013 Aug 1.


This study investigated the impact of a fresh scent on the rate of hand hygiene compliance (HHC) among novice healthcare providers. In all, 165 participants examined a standardized patient with one sample exposed to fresh scent (N = 79) and the other exposed to the standard environment (N = 86). Hand hygiene behaviours were tracked before patient contact using video surveillance. The standard environment group had an HHC rate of 51% whereas participants in the fresh scent group had a higher HHC rate of 80% (P < 0.001). These data demonstrate that hand hygiene behaviour may be subconsciously influenced by cues in the environment.

Keywords: Behavioural assessment; Hand hygiene; Patient safety; Priming; Scent; Simulation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Behavior / drug effects*
  • Cues*
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hand Hygiene / methods*
  • Hand Hygiene / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Smell*
  • Students, Medical