Proper handwashing promotes wellness in child care

J Pediatr Health Care. 1997 Jan-Feb;11(1):26-31. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5245(97)90141-3.


Introduction: The purpose was to determine the effectiveness of an instructional program on handwashing. The hypothesis stated that an instructional program on germs and handwashing in child care could significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases in the test center.

Method: A longitudinal study was conducted in a field setting with a test group and a control group of 3- to 5-year-old children and their teachers in two similar child care settings. For 21 weeks illnesses and symptoms of infectious diseases were assessed with a health assessment checklist. The test group received a developmentally appropriate instructional program on germs and handwashing. The teachers in the test group attended workshops on infectious diseases and handwashing. The control group maintained their usual handwashing procedures.

Result: At weeks 1 through 11 benchmark data were collected. At weeks 12 through 21, peak cold and flu season, the test group had significantly fewer colds than the control group (chi-squared analysis, 4.338, 1 df, p < .05); thus the hypothesis was confirmed.

Discussion: Handwashing has been recognized as one way to manage the spread of infectious diseases in child care centers. Handwashing helped to reduce colds at the test center where frequent and proper handwashing practices were incorporated into the curriculum through an intervention program.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child Day Care Centers*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Common Cold / prevention & control*
  • Hand Disinfection*
  • Health Education*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies