Hands washing, glove use, and avoiding recontamination before aseptic procedures at birth: A multicenter time-and-motion study conducted in Zanzibar

Am J Infect Control. 2019 Feb;47(2):149-156. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2018.07.021. Epub 2018 Oct 4.


Background: Our primary objective was to assess hand hygiene (HH) compliance before aseptic procedures among birth attendants in the 10 highest-volume facilities in Zanzibar. We also examined the extent to which recontamination contributes to poor HH. Recording exact recontamination occurrences is not possible using the existing World Health Organization HH audit tool.

Methods: In this time-and-motion study, 3 trained coders used WOMBATv2 software to record the hand actions of all birth attendants present in the study sites. The percentage compliance and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for individual behaviors (hand washing/rubbing, avoiding recontamination and glove use) and for behavioral sequences during labor and delivery were calculated.

Results: We observed 104 birth attendants and 781 HH opportunities before aseptic procedures. Compliance with hand rubbing/washing was 24.6% (95% CI, 21.6-27.8). Only 9.6% (95% CI, 7.6-11.9) of birth attendants also donned gloves and avoided recontamination. Half of the time when rubbing/washing or glove donning was performed, hands were recontaminated prior to the aseptic procedure.

Conclusions: In this study, HH compliance by birth attendants before aseptic procedures was poor. To our knowledge, this is the first study in a low- to middle-income country to show the large contribution to poor HH compliance from hand and glove recontamination before the procedure. Recontamination is an important driver of infection risk from poor HH. It should be understood for the purposes of improvement and therefore included in HH monitoring and interventions.

Keywords: Behavioral medicine; Hand hygiene; Labor ward; Maternal health; Newborn health; Tanzania.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods*
  • Female
  • Gloves, Protective*
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hand Disinfection / methods*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Tanzania