Antimicrobial Resistance Following Prolonged Use of Hand Hygiene Products: A Systematic Review

Pharmacy (Basel). 2022 Jan 4;10(1):9. doi: 10.3390/pharmacy10010009.


Background: This systematic review aimed to establish whether antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs following prolonged use of antimicrobial hand hygiene (HH) products, and, if so, in what magnitude.

Methods: Key bibliographic databases were searched to locate items on HH use and AMR development from database inception to December 2020. Records were screened and full texts of all potentially eligible articles were retrieved and checked for inclusion. The following data from the included studies were abstracted: type of HH product used, including the name of antimicrobial agent, study setting, country, study year, duration of use and development of AMR including the organisms involved. Quality assessment was done using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS).

Results: Of 339 full-text articles assessed for eligibility, only four heterogeneous United States (US) studies conducted in the period between 1986 and 2015 were found eligible, and included. One hospital-based study showed evidence of AMR following long term use of HH products, two studies conducted in household settings showed no evidence of AMR, and another experimental study showed partial evidence of AMR. The overall certainty of the evidence was moderate.

Conclusion: Prolonged use of HH products may cause AMR in health care settings, but perhaps not in other settings.

Keywords: antimicrobial agents; antimicrobial resistance; hand hygiene; hand hygiene products.

Publication types

  • Review