Psychologists Adam M. Grant and David A. Hofmann recently did experiments in a hospital to understand the effectiveness of signs that promote hand hygiene.
In the field experiments, there were interesting findings when it came down to the comparisons of different hand hygiene signs located near dispensaries, which either promoted the idea of “hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases,” or “hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.”
At the Vienna General Hospital in 1847, Ignaz Semmelweis required health care officials to wash their hands, and the affects were dramatic. Death rates due to childbed fever decreased from 18.3% to 1.3%. After extensive research, it has since been found that hand hygiene plays an extremely important role in preventing the spread of diseases and infections.
In the study performed by Adam and Hofmann, the percentage of soap and hand-sanitizing gel were measured during 2-week periods before and after the signs were introduced.
Here are the results:
Personal consequence: 35% pre-experiment, 33% post-experiment
Patient consequences: 37% pre-experiment, 54% post-experiment
It was discovered that when it came to someone else’s life at stake when dealing with the potential spread of diseases, health care officials had better hand hygiene. But when it came to being reminded that washing hands prevents themselves from catching diseases, they didn’t seem to think twice about it.
Thinking about the patient is crucially important, and in the long run can help both health care officials and patients stay away from infectious diseases.
Cite: Psychological Science
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