Hospital visitors are more than five times as likely to use hand sanitizer when dispensers are placed in the middle of the hospital lobby versus near the information desk, research published in the American Journal of Infection Control found.
Visitors also were 1.35 times more likely to use sanitizer in the morning than in the afternoon, and 1.47 times more likely if they are younger visitors, according to the findings. Being in a group also increased the chances that visitors would use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, by 1.39 times, the researchers from Clemson University and the Greenville Health System in South Carolina found.
The results "suggest future research opportunities to investigate the effect of group dynamics and social pressure" on use of hand sanitizers and to develop strategies to improve visitor use of sanitizers, the researchers concluded.
The researchers also suggested further study to understand why middle-aged and elderly visitors were less likely to use hand sanitizer, including whether they perceive the alcohol-based sanitizer isn't effective.
The study involved more than 6,600 visitors to Greenville Memorial Hospital over a three-week period, according to an announcement from Greenville Health System. The dispenser was placed in a different location each week.
Most research into hand hygiene focuses on hospital staff compliance--for good reason. About one in four hospitals fail to meet the 10 best practices for hand hygiene outlined by the Leapfrog Group, FierceHealthcare previously reported.
Hospitals like Mayo Clinic Florida in Jacksonville managed to beat the odds by empowering nurses to enforce hand-hygiene protocols. Compliance is at or near 100 percent, FierceHealthcare reported.