Increased hand hygiene knowledge positively correlates with a decreased risk of transmitting infection among both healthcare workers (HCW) and elementary school children, according to two studies published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), the official publication of APIC — the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
In the first study, conducted by Anne McLaughlin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology at North Carolina State University, 71 nurses, infection preventionists and hospital environmental services managers participated in a national survey gauging hand hygiene knowledge and beliefs. Each HCW assessed 16 real-life simulations designed to test their perceived risk of infection, based on their level of hygiene knowledge as well as their internal health locus of control (internal-HLC) — a measurement of how much influence they perceive themselves as having over controlling the spread of infection.
The study found that across all knowledge- and HLC-levels, HCWs perceived surfaces as safer to touch than patient skin, in spite of research that has proven touching one contaminated surface (known as a fomite) can spread bacteria to up to the next seven surfaces touched.
“Despite the dangers that fomites present, this knowledge may not be common enough among HCWs for them to understand the level of risk when touching surfaces and then touching patients,” say the authors.