Knowledge, Beliefs Affect Judgment of Hand Hygiene Risk

Health care workers perceive lower risk in touching objects than patient skin

TUESDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Individual differences in knowledge levels and beliefs among health care workers (HCWs) affect their risk perception regarding pathogen transfer, with touching patient skin believed to be riskier than touching objects, according to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Anne Collins McLaughlin, Ph.D., from the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and Fran Walsh, Ph.D., from the Kimberly-Clark Corporation in Atlanta, examined the influence of individual differences in knowledge and beliefs on risk judgment in hand hygiene among 71 HCWs in the United States. Questions taken from published questionnaires were used to assess knowledge levels. Internal health beliefs were described using the health locus of control scale. The risk of pathogen transfer was assessed by HCWs in situations that changed according to the surface touched and the person doing the touching.

The investigators found that HCWs reported lower risk assessments for touching surfaces than touching skin. Individual differences, which included differences in knowledge level and internal health locus of control, influenced risk assessment among HCWs.

"Our data describe the individual differences of HCWs related to hand hygiene in ways that can be used to create targeted interventions and products to improve hand hygiene," the authors write.

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