Improving hand hygiene compliance poses major challenges. Researchers at the University Hospital in Geneva have investigated a new type of intervention: using different disinfectants at the same time.
There are many different hand sanitizers on the hygiene market from numerous manufacturers. Each formula has its advantages and individual properties. In addition to effectiveness, other factors play an important role in the use of sanitizers in clinics and hospitals. These include the acceptance of physicians, but especially of nursing staff, who account for the majority of all necessary hand disinfection in hospital life .
A team of researchers led by Alexandra Peters from the renowned University Hospital in Geneva has studied this topic and recently published its findings in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. The research group studied the impact on hand hygiene behaviour of introducing a second sanitizer gel as an alternative to an existing disinfectant.
Two hand sanitizers, nine evaluation criteria, 42 healthcare-workers.
On top of the isopropanol-based hand sanitizers previously used (Hopigel® and Hopirub®), the researchers introduced a highly moisturizing ethanol-based disinfectant gel. A total of 42 hospital employees tested the two preparations one after the other over a period of up to ten days in each case during day shifts on the hospital ward.
Following the test phases, the participants evaluated their individual acceptance of the two hand disinfectants on the basis of nine different criteria. The focus was on the color and odor of the alcohol-based disinfectants, as well as aspects relating to skin compatibility and drying speed.
A golden rule for hand sanitizers: offer alternatives
The results of the study show that the existing isopropanol-based disinfectant (Hopigel® and Hopirub®) scores slightly lower overall in terms of acceptance, but there is also a large proportion in the test group who reject the ethanol-containing preparation. The greatest differences were found in the “odor” criterion. Here, the gel introduced for test purposes performed “by far” better than the already established hand disinfectant. On the other hand, the Hopigel® or Hopirub® products were favoured because they left less product residue on the hand.
Overall, the study results suggest that the use of different sanitizers has advantages. It can lead to broader acceptance that could lead to better hand hygiene compliance in the hospital. This presupposes that sanitizer dispensers are used in the hospitals which permit the use of different preparations and bottles. Here, the so-called Euro dispenser from OPHARDT Hygiene has emerged as a great solution. The ingo-man® Euro dispenser has been compatible with the bottle from many sanitizer manufacturers for over 55 years.
In its conclusion, the Geneva-based working group led by Alexandra Peters emphasizes that hand hygiene behavior can be improved, among other things, if hospital staff can choose between different hand sanitizers on the ward.
A. Peters et al. Acceptability of an alcohol-based handrub gel with superfatting agents among healthcare workers: a randomized crossover controlled study. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control (2022) 11:97 doi: 10.1186/s13756-022-01129-4
 Stahmeyer, J. T., et al. “Hand hygiene in intensive care units: a matter of time?.” Journal of Hospital Infection 95.4 (2017): 338-343.