Hand hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic among people experiencing homelessness-Atlanta, Georgia, 2020

J Community Psychol. 2021 Sep;49(7):2441-2453. doi: 10.1002/jcop.22583. Epub 2021 Apr 26.


People experiencing homelessness are at risk for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and may experience barriers to hand hygiene, a primary recommendation for COVID-19 prevention. We conducted in-depth interviews with 51 people experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness in Atlanta, Georgia during May 2020 to August 2020 to (1) describe challenges and opportunities related to hand hygiene and (2) assess hand hygiene communication preferences. The primary hand hygiene barrier reported was limited access to facilities and supplies, which has disproportionately impacted people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. This lack of access has reportedly been exacerbated during COVID-19 by the closure of public facilities and businesses. Increased access to housing and employment were identified as long-term solutions to improving hand hygiene. Overall, participants expressed a preference for access to facilities and supplies over hand hygiene communication materials.

Keywords: COVID-19; handwashing; homeless persons; hygiene; sanitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Georgia / epidemiology
  • Hand Hygiene*
  • Health Communication
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged