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Teaching health care students hand hygiene theory and skills: a systematic review

Purssell, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-3748-0864 & Gould, D. (2021). Teaching health care students hand hygiene theory and skills: a systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 32(9), pp. 2065-2073. doi: 10.1080/09603123.2021.1937580


Hand hygiene is the cornerstone of infection prevention but is poorly undertaken and under-appreciated by medical, nursing, and other health care students. This systematic review aimed to identify and describe strategies used to teach the theory and practice of hand hygiene, determine impact on knowledge and practice, and identify need for future education and research. Ten studies met the criteria for review. Health care students' theoretical knowledge of hand hygiene and their ability to practise are suboptimal and should be improved before they have contact with vulnerable patients. Educational input can increase knowledge and practice but the methodological heterogeneity of the studies and lack of rigour make it impossible to determine which interventions are most likely to be successful. The literature provides little evidence upon which to base educational practice in this area. There is a need for multi-centred longitudinal studies to measure effectiveness of teaching methods over time.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Publisher Keywords: Aseptic technique, eduction, teaching
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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