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Improving Hand Hygiene Compliance in Hospitals by Design

  • Marijke Melles (a1), Vicki Erasmus (a2), Martijn P. M. van Loon (a1), Marc Tassoul (a1), Ed F. van Beeck (a2) and Margreet C. Vos (a3)...

Essential in reducing hospital-acquired infections is adequate hand hygiene (HH) among healthcare workers (HCWs). International studies show, however, that HH guidelines are adhered to in less than 50% of required times. Research into HH behavior has shown that self-reported compliance is often higher than observed compliance, which seems to indicate that HCWs are unaware of their HH behavior. In addition, because of its frequency, HH behavior could be considered an automatic (or subconscious) behavior. Therefore, a (temporary) shift from the subconscious to the conscious could be a solution to change current HH behavior and create new habits. These insights formed the points of departure of the design project described here, which aimed to develop an alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) dispenser to stimulate HCWs to better adhere to the international guidelines of HH. In order to increase the chance of success of the new dispenser, a participatory design approach was applied, meaning that all stakeholders of the dispenser (nurses, physicians, infection control practitioners, housekeeping) were actively involved in the different phases of the development process.

The development process of the new dispenser consisted of 5 phases: analysis, idea finding (identifying promising design directions), and 3 idea iterations. Interim ideas were evaluated using functional 3-dimensional prototypes and the results applied to further develop the final concept. Methods of user research included observations and individual and focus group interviews.

Corresponding author
Landbergstraat 15, 2628 CE Delft, The Netherlands (
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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
  • URL: /core/journals/infection-control-and-hospital-epidemiology
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