Individual hand hygiene improvements and effects on healthcare-associated infections: a long-term follow-up study using an electronic hand hygiene monitoring system

J Hosp Infect. 2023 May:135:179-185. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2023.02.017. Epub 2023 Mar 17.


Background: Obtaining detailed insights into people's unique hand hygiene behaviour could play an important role in developing the most effective long-term hand hygiene compliance (HHC) interventions.

Aim: To investigate the effect of two feedback interventions provided by an electronic hand hygiene monitoring system (EHHMS) on sustained HHC improvement, individual responsiveness, and prevention of hospital-acquired bloodstream infections (HABSIs) and urinary tract infections (HAUTIs).

Methods: The study included two 2-year cohorts (exposed and unexposed to EHHMS) observed over 4 years in an internal medicine department with 142 caregivers and 39 doctors. Healthcare workers (HCWs) were stratified into four groups based on their baseline performance to assess predicted responsiveness to the interventions.

Findings: All HCWs increased their HHC independently from their performance at baseline, except for a few in the low-performance groups with constantly low HHC. The two low-performance groups at baseline were most responsive to group feedback (weekly change in HHC of 4.4% and 3.1%) compared with individual feedback (weekly change in HHC of 1.0% and 2.2%). The number of cases of HABSI reduced significantly during the intervention period (P=0.01), with the greatest effect on Staphylococcus aureus. No significant change in HAUTIs was observed.

Conclusion: The EHHMS interventions sustained the HHC improvements successfully and reduced the number of cases of HABSI. Nearly all HCWs responded to the interventions. The two low-performance groups at baseline never reached the same HHC levels as those in the high-performance groups, indicating the potential for further improvement and the need for intensified individualized interventions.

Keywords: Bloodstream infection; Electronic monitoring systems; Hand hygiene; Hospital-acquired infection; Infection prevention and control.

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection* / prevention & control
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Electronics
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Hand Disinfection
  • Hand Hygiene*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans