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Hand decontamination in clinical practice: A review of the evidence

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-451
Number of pages4
JournalBritish journal of nursing (Mark Allen Publishing)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2017

King's Authors


Hand decontamination is known to significantly reduce the spread of hospital-Acquired infections but, despite a wealth of guidelines and education campaigns, evidence suggests that many healthcare workers are non-compliant with hand decontamination. The behaviours that prevent hand decontamination are complex. Studies look at attitudes towards dirt, disgust, self-protective hand washing and familiarity with patients. Self-protection behaviours manifest themselves in washing hands more often after certain tasks. Professional issues are also reported to have an impact on hand decontamination, mainly lack of time, heavy workloads, understaffing and frequency of admissions to the clinical area. Further research needs to be undertaken to include comparison between self-reported studies and observational studies, as it has been shown that healthcare workers may rationalise their behaviour and that self-reporting can be unreliable.

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