How has hand hygiene behaviours changed during the COVID-19 pandemic? A study sponsored by European Tissue Symposium took a close look at this very issue. They found that people are indeed washing their hands more frequently, are concerned about the health risks of electric hand dryers, and are taking action on their own when their preferred method of hand drying is not offered.
Background on the study
The study took the form of a survey of thousands of people in ten European countries. It was supported by ETS, the trade association of European tissue paper producers. Its members represent the majority of these companies in Europe and are responsible for about 90% of European tissue paper production. The main focus was on how people’s attitudes have changed after the pandemic. Their hand hygiene habits and preferences were also studied.
More important than ever
The data showed a marked improvement in hand hygiene. More than 86% of the people surveyed said that they wash their hands more frequently since the pandemic began. This increases to 90% in certain countries, like Spain and Italy. More than half of those surveyed said that they had changed the way they wash their hands as a result of the pandemic. It is particularly noticeable that middle-aged people (35-50 years) have changed their habits. In the Netherlands, for example, the majority of those who have changed their habits are male. It should be noted above all that across all age groups paper towels are perceived as the most hygienic way of drying hands and paper towel dispensers are preferred.
Sixty percent of respondents said they feared electric hand dryers would blow bacteria into the environment, with men have the greatest aversion. Of all the countries polled, respondents in Spain had the greatest concerns in this regard.
In addition, about two-thirds of respondents said they would have a worse perception of facilities that did not have their preferred method of hand washing. Almost half of those surveyed even said they would leave bad reviews. Italians and Belgians were most like to leave the facility immediately in such an event. Twenty percent of men would report the deficiency to management.
Public washrooms and hand hygiene remain a hot topic
This study once again underscores the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has given the topic of hygiene a new significance. Not only have the demands on sanitary facilities increased enormously, but new hand hygiene habits have become established. Therefore, it is more important than ever for companies, public institutions & Co. to have toilet and sanitary rooms in good condition.
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