Incredibly, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are not washing their hands enough at work.
Several studies across Canada have found that medical professionals are not meeting the requirements of hand-washing protocols at our hospitals, clinics, offices and personal-care homes. Studies in the US and Switzerland have found similar results. (http://www NULL.dailymail NULL.co NULL.uk/health/article-2830947/Hospital-patients-likely-doctors-nurses-clean-hands-appointment-morning NULL.html) Research has been undertaken to determine how to best convince doctors to wash their hands (http://well NULL.blogs NULL.nytimes NULL.com/2011/09/01/getting-doctors-to-wash-their-hands/). Patients are being encouraged to ask their doctors “Have you washed your hands? (http://www NULL.wsj NULL.com/articles/SB10001424052702303918804579107202360565642)”
The implications are staggering, given the opportunity to transfer bacteria from one patient to another. One study found that 1 in 16 people who visit a hospital for treatment contract an infection while there.
This is one of the examples I use in my Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) seminars to show the difference between attitude/awareness and performing a behaviour.
- There is no doubt that doctors, nurses and other health professionals are aware of the importance of handwashing to reduce the spread of infectious disease. These highly-trained professionals study for many years in order to graduate, and then are taught proper hygiene in the workplace as residents.
- These professionals no doubt have the attitude that it is important to practice proper hygiene. After all, they have chosen a career to make people healthy, not sick.
- Nonetheless, it is clear that the awareness and the attitude these professionals possess does not always translate into the desired behaviour.
There is an opportunity here for a CBSM approach to increasing compliance with hand-washing protocols. In fact, the approach of encouraging patients to ask their doctors “Did you wash your hands” is a fine example of a CBSM prompt and of establishing a social norm.
Have any ideas on CBSM techniques you would use to get medical professionals to wash their hands more often? Post them in the comments block below.