'Glowing hands' in the waiting room improves kids' handwashing

June 15, 2011, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

Use of a glowing gel that shows kids how well they wash their hands by illustrating bacteria they missed while washing and may significantly improve hand hygiene, according to a study published in the July issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. What makes this particular intervention unique is where it was performed: a children's hospital emergency department waiting room.

"Waiting for the doctor is usually a tiresome and unproductive experience, but we were able to turn the into an interactive education center to help improve their hand hygiene," said Dr. Anna Fishbein, a physician and researcher at Northwestern University's Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and the study's lead author.

The researchers recruited 60 waiting to be seen by a doctor to participate in the study, which involved the application of Glo Germ Gel to the kids' hands. Under a black light, the gel creates a yellow glow in areas where dirt and are present. After seeing the dirty spots, the participants were asked to wash their hands with soap and water as they normally would. After washing, the researchers put the black light over the kids' hands again, revealing the spots they had missed when washing. The hands were rated both before and after washing on a four-point cleanliness scale from "very dirty" to "very clean."

Following the test, about half the children were given a brief lesson in handwashing technique, while the others received no additional education. All the kids were then asked to return two to four weeks later to repeat the test.

During the follow up appointment, 77 percent of the original participants returned to have their hand washing re-evaluted. Researchers found that every child who returned scored significantly better on the cleanliness scale, regardless of whether they received handwashing education.

Proper handwashing technique includes the duration of washing lasting at least 20 seconds, cleaning each hand completely, including between fingers and finger nails.

"We found that using the gel alone to illustrate the areas of hands that may not be getting clean, even without verbal education, improves children's hand hygiene," said Dr. Mary Groll, also of Children's Memorial and the study's principal investigator. "Considering the importance of hand hygiene in disease prevention, the implications of this study will have lasting impact in this community's effort to decrease the spread of illness."

"This intervention is effective for improving children's handwashing ability, even without specific education," Dr. Groll added.

The study was supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics CATCH Grant and the Children's Memorial Advocacy Fund. Follow up studies are now underway at three Chicago area community clinics, and the researchers are hopeful for similar results in the clinic setting.

More information: Anna B. Fishbein, Itza Tellez, Henry Lin, Christine Sullivan, and Mary E. Groll, "Glow Gel Handwashing in the Waiting Room: A Novel Approach to Improving Hand Hygiene Education." Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 32:7 (July 2011).

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.