11 September 2017
Compliance with hand hygiene recommendations in hospital is typically less than 50%. Such low compliance inevitably contributes to hospital-acquired infections that negatively affect patients’ well-being and hospitals’ finances. The design of the present study is predicated on the assumption that most people who fail to clean their hands are not doing so intentionally, they just forget. The present study will test whether psychological priming can be used to increase the number of people who clean their hands on entering a ward. Here, we present the protocol for this study.
The study will use a randomised cross-over design. During the study, each of four wards will be observed during four conditions: olfactory prime, visual prime, both primes and neither prime. Each condition will be experienced for 42 days followed by a 7-day washout period (total duration of trial=189 days). We will record the number of people who enter each ward and whether they clean their hands during observation sessions, the amount of cleaning material used from the dispensers each week and the number of hospital-acquired infections that occur in each period. The outcomes will be compared using a regression analysis. Following the initial trail, the most effective priming condition will be rolled out for 3 months in all the wards.
Research ethics approval was obtained from the South Central—Oxford C Research Ethics Committee (16/SC/0554), the Health Regulatory Authority and the sponsor.