Thursday, February 10, 2011

Teaching hospital medical staff to handwash

Someone asked for the reference for the Australian handwashing study. The papers is called  Teaching hospital medical staff to handwash, and is from the Medical Journal of Australia in 1996.

The study contains several more elements than I mentioned in class including an initial covert observation (the low rates of ~10% I mentioned), an estimate by medical personnel of their compliance rate (the 73% figure I mentioned), a period of overt observation and finally a period of overt observation and performance feedback.

In this case handwashing rates covertly observed 7 weeks after the end of the study were ~50%, a huge improvement on the initial values of ~10%. The authors drew the conclusion that 'Performance feedback is moderately effective in training hospital medical staff to handwash'. I guess 50% is better than 10% but it takes the offer of a free cup of coffee to get it higher...

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