Specialized messages increase likelihood of male hand washing

January 11, 2013

The CDC reports that 77% of males wash their hands when leaving the restroom. Recent research, published in the journal Human Communication Research, found that this figure increased to 86% among men who were primed with messages in bathrooms.

Maria Lapinski, Michigan State University; Erin Maloney, University of Pennsylvania; Mary Braz, Westchester University; and Hillary Shulman, North Central College published in Human Communication Research their findings from a field study of college-aged men. Conducted at Michigan State University, males were surveyed and self-reported washing their hands 75% of the time. This led to a where signs were posted in bathrooms that read "4 out of 5 Males Wash Their Hands," with pictures of students wearing MSU hats and a guide to effective . Researchers in the bathroom then recorded hand-washing behavior and marked how well the guide was followed. When the participants exited the bathroom they were approached by experimenters and willing participants filled out a questionnaire.

The findings suggested that men who are exposed to a relatable message in the bathroom are more likely to wash their hands and ran the water longer than participants not exposed to the messages. This can have huge implications on public health, particularly during .

"It is important from a public health standpoint, because quality hand washing can prevent transmission of many diseases and we have good evidence that people typically don't do it as often or as well as they should," Lapinski said.

"This investigation not only advances communication theory in meaningful ways," said John Courtright, editor of Human Communication Research and professor at the University of Delaware, "But it also increases our knowledge about the important role of communication in health campaigns."

Explore further: Patients' health motivates workers to wash their hands

More information: Testing the Effects of Social Norms and Behavioral Privacy on Hand Washing: A Field Experiment; Human Communication Research doi:10.1111/j.1468-2958.2012.01441.x

Related Stories

Patients' health motivates workers to wash their hands

August 30, 2011
Can changing a single word on a sign motivate doctors and nurses to wash their hands?

Patients shy away from asking healthcare workers to wash hands

November 12, 2012
According to a new study published online today, most patients at risk for healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) agree that healthcare workers should be reminded to wash their hands, but little more than half would feel ...

Recommended for you

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

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.