Introduction: Despite continuing efforts, compliance rates and knowledge of best practices in hand hygiene remain disappointing. Recognizing that conventional educational tools seem out of touch with young people and that the med and messages contents need refreshing, the Italian Study Group of Hospital Hygiene of the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health devised a novel approach to promote the creation of innovative educational tools for improving knowledge of, and compliance with, hand hygiene rules among healthcare and medical students.
Methods: A contest in creating educational material on hand hygiene practices involved university students of nursing and medicine, and of other healthcare degrees. Students from the universities of the GISIO network were invited to create educational material (e.g., videos, posters, presentations, leaflets, and screensavers) to be presented by May 5th 2019 during the World Hand Hygiene Day / Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Global Annual Initiative of the World Health Organization). A local and a national winners were awarded.
Results: Three different local and national contests were performed during 2016, 2017 and 2018. During the three-year period, more than 270 educational tools have been developed: 130 (48%) were judged useful for hand hygiene promotion campaigns. The most frequent projects participating in the contests were videos (39%), posters (29%), leaflets (14%), and others (18%) submitted by more than 1,500 students of nursing (40%), medicine (31%), dentistry (7%), and of other healthcare courses in 14 universities. Products were evaluated by a local committee and, subsequently, local winners represented their University in a national contest.
Conclusions: The contest provided a framework for the creation of innovative and potentially effective educational tools via an engaging approach that leveraged student creativity. Given the need to improve compliance rates, this study suggests that new ways can be advantageously explored to teach hand hygiene procedures and increase awareness of the importance of their consistent use among healthcare and medical students.
Keywords: Education; Hand hygiene; Healthcare-associated infections; Hospital epidemiology.