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DebMed Blog: Healthcare Hygiene Matters

What's the link between Nurses’ Attitudes and Hand Hygiene Compliance?

Posted by Tanya van Monsjou on Oct 4, 2018 9:30:00 AM

Nurses play an important role in reducing instances of infection among their patients, whether they work in a hospital, healthcare facility or in the home. But are they the key to better compliance with infection control practices?

Close up of a nurse touching hand of a patient in hospital ward 

According to a new study in the American Journal of Infection Control, the answer is yes. But it’s not just nurses; the study suggests that it’s also their attitude toward infection prevention. The survey, conducted among more than 350 community nurses, analyzed knowledge, attitudes and reported/actual compliance with infection prevention practice guidelines to see if there was a relationship between the three.


And there was.


The study found a significant correlation between attitudinal scores toward infection prevention procedures and reported level of compliance. In other words, just because a home health nurse has knowledge of infection control practices, doesn’t mean that they comply with proper procedures. The survey also revealed that attitudes and organizational culture, rather than hand hygiene compliance knowledge, was much more likely to encourage compliance with infection control.


So what does that mean for hospitals, healthcare facilities and home health patients?


According to study authors, while education on proper hand hygiene is important, the findings suggest the healthcare community needs to focus on developing strategies to alter the attitudes and perceptions of nursing staff when it comes to infection prevention measures,. Study author Dawn Dowding reported most of the nurses surveyed were experienced and were aware of effective infection control procedures, “So more training, for example, might not necessarily change behavior; we felt from this research that inculcating good practice into the organizational culture is likely to be more effective.”


However, providing more education and insight on infection control 5 Moments - WHOstrategies could be helpful, especially since the study’s findings found that almost all the respondents failed to identify that hand hygiene should be performed after touching the nursing bag, something that may transport infectious pathogens between patients. If nurses plan to adhere to the Joint Commission’s current guidelines or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene, this step, along with several others, are absolutely necessary. In this example, it seems that the nurses perceptions of their level of knowledge on proper hand hygiene may have been slightly over exaggerated – indicating that both culture change and education would be suitable solutions.


Learn more about the 2018 Joint Commission hand hygiene standards and the WHO 5-Moments in our upcoming Webinar: Mastering the Joint Commission Survey and Driving Sustainable Hand Hygiene Culture Change in Healthcare with infection prevention thought leader, Connie Steed. 


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For more information on how to improve hand hygiene compliance among your healthcare workers or health facility, visit https://www.debmed.com.

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Topics: patient safety, hand hygiene compliance, Nursing

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The DebMed blog is the go-to source for hand hygiene and infection prevention related discussions occurring in the healthcare industry. Join the conversation! All readers are invited to comment, share stories and information, and post articles of interest.

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