The nose knows the way to better hand-hygiene compliance

The eyes have it when it comes to improving hand-hygiene compliance--but not as much as the nose, it turns out.

Researchers placed a picture of intense-looking men's eyes over the antimicrobial gel dispenser in a surgical intensive care unit and improved hand-hygiene compliance from 15 percent to 33 percent, according to a study published in Health Psychology. Intense-looking women's eyes had no effect, the researchers found.

 A clean, citrus smell had an even more dramatic impact, improving compliance to 47 percent.

The difference between compliance with male or female eyes could be that male eyes "cue different feelings, thoughts, or emotions than female eyes," researcher Ivo Vlaev, of Warwick Business School, said in an announcement published in Infection Control Today. Men generally exert more influence, Vlaev said, but noted the male eyes showed more facial musculature that could have been perceived as angry or threatening.

Hand-hygiene compliance remains a struggle for many hospitals, with only three out of four reaching desired levels of compliance, as FierceHealthcare previously reported. Targeted approaches to improving compliance may achieve better results than one-size-fits-all compliance campaigns, some research shows.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- see the announcement