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Background: Despite increased attention to hand hygiene over the past decade compliance rates remain relatively low. Although there have been a number of improvements in the science of hand hygiene, very little attention has been devoted to the messages that promote it.

Method: A total of 86 health care workers who are members of Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology chapters participated in an online evaluation of 6 message strategies. The participants evaluated the strategies on ease of understanding, believability, and whether the message strategies were likely to lead to increased handwashing.

Results: Of the 6 strategies—ego, social, sensory, routine, acute need, and ration—the social strategy was rated the most likely to lead to action. The sensory strategy was seen as not only least likely but also counterproductive.

Conclusions: ICPs should add a social message strategy to communication programs promoting hand hygiene. Although further testing is needed, ego, routine, and acute need strategies show promise for tapping into motivations that lead to improved compliance.


Taylor, R.E. (2015) The role of message strategy in improving hand hygiene compliance rates. American Journal of Infection Control. 43(11), p.1166–1170.


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