American Journal of Infectious Diseases

Handwashing Practices amongst Health Workers in a Teaching Hospital

B. A. Alex-Hart and P. I. Opara

DOI : 10.3844/ajidsp.2011.8.15

American Journal of Infectious Diseases

Volume 7, Issue 1

Pages 8-15


Problem statement: Hand washing with soap is an important means of preventing hospital acquired infections .However the rate of hand washing with soap and water is unacceptably low amongst health workers. Few studies on this subject have been done amongst health workers in Nigeria. The aims of this study were to explore perceptions, attitudes and hand washing practices amongst health workers in a tertiary health institution in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Approach: This was a descriptive cross sectional survey carried out amongst randomly selected doctors and nurses in University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. A simple questionnaire exploring perceptions, attitudes and self reported behavior was used. Information obtained included bio data, awareness information and practice. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: A total of 258 health workers (139 doctors and 119 nurses) participated in this study. Male to female ratio was 1: 3.3. The rate of hand washing before and after interacting with patients were 9.3 and 51.2% respectively (χ2= 105.19, p-value=0.000). The rate of hand washing before and after simple procedures were 13.6 and 59.7% respectively (χ2 = 116.25, p-value = 0.000). Soapy water in a basin was most frequently (55.8%) used for hand washing. Doctors were more likely than nurses to wash hands before interacting with patients (χ2 = 7.98, p-value = 0.005) and before simple procedures (χ2 = 4.29, p-value = 0.039). The rates of hand washing before meals and after defaecation were 69.0% and 58.1% respectively. Soap and running water were more frequently used after defecation (61.6%) than before meals and snacks (46.5%).The greatest motivation for hand washing was fear of contracting disease, whilst constraints included lack of soap and water. Conclusion/Recommendations: Hand washing rates are low amongst health workers in Port Harcourt. There is need for regular education and re-education and provision of facilities for hand washing.


© 2011 B. A. Alex-Hart and P. I. Opara. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.