Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2021

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Lisa Casanova

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura Salazar

Third Advisor

Dr. Joel Mumma


OBJECTIVE: Although a plethora of hand hygiene guidance and policies exist for healthcare workers, a number of barriers exist that can cause a lack of adherence. A lack of hand hygiene adherence can lead to healthcare-associated infections and altered community health. This study aimed to examine the hand hygiene techniques among intensive care nurses to gain a better understanding of current practices and needs among the population.

METHODS: Previously obtained data of 19 intensive care nurses completing simulated patient care was used. Each nurse completed care for two patients and the duration, type and number of hand hygiene instances were observed. Frequencies and means were used to compare behaviors and determine gaps in the data.

RESULTS: Of the 74 total observed hand hygiene instances, the average duration was 9.9 seconds. 66 of these instances involved using alcohol-based hand rub (88%), and 6 using soap and water (12%). Eight possible moments of hand hygiene (given interactions with two patients) should have been completed, however, most nurses completed only 4 (31.6%), and none completed the recommended 8. When using soap, the average duration of hand hygiene was 14.5 seconds (WHO recommends 40-60 seconds) and 9.29 seconds for alcohol-based hand rub (WHO recommends 20-30 seconds).

DISCUSSION: Overall, there is a large gap between recommended hand hygiene practices and those seen in this study. Research suggests that this is likely due to accessibility issues, a lack of knowledge, and demanding workload. However, there is room for further in-depth investigation of this topic to solidify true barriers to hand hygiene adherence and overall work to improve the health of healthcare workers, patients, and communities.


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