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Hygiene and health: systematic review of handwashing practices worldwide and update of health effects.

Tropical Medicine & International Health

Diarrhea, etiology, prevention & control, Environmental Exposure, Global Health, Hand Disinfection, Humans, Hygiene, Sanitation, Soaps

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      Abstract

      To estimate the global prevalence of handwashing with soap and derive a pooled estimate of the effect of hygiene on diarrhoeal diseases, based on a systematic search of the literature. Studies with data on observed rates of handwashing with soap published between 1990 and August 2013 were identified from a systematic search of PubMed, Embase and ISI Web of Knowledge. A separate search was conducted for studies on the effect of hygiene on diarrhoeal disease that included randomised controlled trials, quasi-randomised trials with control group, observational studies using matching techniques and observational studies with a control group where the intervention was well defined. The search used Cochrane Library, Global Health, BIOSIS, PubMed, and Embase databases supplemented with reference lists from previously published systematic reviews to identify studies published between 1970 and August 2013. Results were combined using multilevel modelling for handwashing prevalence and meta-regression for risk estimates. From the 42 studies reporting handwashing prevalence we estimate that approximately 19% of the world population washes hands with soap after contact with excreta (i.e. use of a sanitation facility or contact with children's excreta). Meta-regression of risk estimates suggests that handwashing reduces the risk of diarrhoeal disease by 40% (risk ratio 0.60, 95% CI 0.53-0.68); however, when we included an adjustment for unblinded studies, the effect estimate was reduced to 23% (risk ratio 0.77, 95% CI 0.32-1.86). Our results show that handwashing after contact with excreta is poorly practiced globally, despite the likely positive health benefits. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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      Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses The PRISMA Statement

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        Influence of reported study design characteristics on intervention effect estimates from randomized, controlled trials.

        Published evidence suggests that aspects of trial design lead to biased intervention effect estimates, but findings from different studies are inconsistent. This study combined data from 7 meta-epidemiologic studies and removed overlaps to derive a final data set of 234 unique meta-analyses containing 1973 trials. Outcome measures were classified as "mortality," "other objective," "or subjective," and Bayesian hierarchical models were used to estimate associations of trial characteristics with average bias and between-trial heterogeneity. Intervention effect estimates seemed to be exaggerated in trials with inadequate or unclear (vs. adequate) random-sequence generation (ratio of odds ratios, 0.89 [95% credible interval {CrI}, 0.82 to 0.96]) and with inadequate or unclear (vs. adequate) allocation concealment (ratio of odds ratios, 0.93 [CrI, 0.87 to 0.99]). Lack of or unclear double-blinding (vs. double-blinding) was associated with an average of 13% exaggeration of intervention effects (ratio of odds ratios, 0.87 [CrI, 0.79 to 0.96]), and between-trial heterogeneity was increased for such studies (SD increase in heterogeneity, 0.14 [CrI, 0.02 to 0.30]). For each characteristic, average bias and increases in between-trial heterogeneity were driven primarily by trials with subjective outcomes, with little evidence of bias in trials with objective and mortality outcomes. This study is limited by incomplete trial reporting, and findings may be confounded by other study design characteristics. Bias associated with study design characteristics may lead to exaggeration of intervention effect estimates and increases in between-trial heterogeneity in trials reporting subjectively assessed outcomes.
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          Burden of disease from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene in low- and middle-income settings: a retrospective analysis of data from 145 countries

          Objective To estimate the burden of diarrhoeal diseases from exposure to inadequate water, sanitation and hand hygiene in low- and middle-income settings and provide an overview of the impact on other diseases. Methods For estimating the impact of water, sanitation and hygiene on diarrhoea, we selected exposure levels with both sufficient global exposure data and a matching exposure-risk relationship. Global exposure data were estimated for the year 2012, and risk estimates were taken from the most recent systematic analyses. We estimated attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) by country, age and sex for inadequate water, sanitation and hand hygiene separately, and as a cluster of risk factors. Uncertainty estimates were computed on the basis of uncertainty surrounding exposure estimates and relative risks. Results In 2012, 502 000 diarrhoea deaths were estimated to be caused by inadequate drinking water and 280 000 deaths by inadequate sanitation. The most likely estimate of disease burden from inadequate hand hygiene amounts to 297 000 deaths. In total, 842 000 diarrhoea deaths are estimated to be caused by this cluster of risk factors, which amounts to 1.5% of the total disease burden and 58% of diarrhoeal diseases. In children under 5 years old, 361 000 deaths could be prevented, representing 5.5% of deaths in that age group. Conclusions This estimate confirms the importance of improving water and sanitation in low- and middle-income settings for the prevention of diarrhoeal disease burden. It also underscores the need for better data on exposure and risk reductions that can be achieved with provision of reliable piped water, community sewage with treatment and hand hygiene.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            24889816
            10.1111/tmi.12339

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