Funding boost for GCU research into six-step hand hygiene technique

04 May 2017

Funding boost for GCU research into six-step hand hygiene technique

A PhD researcher from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) will take a closer look at the six-step hand hygiene technique.

Lucyna Gozdzielewska has received funding from the Infection Prevention Society (IPS).

The six-step hand hygiene technique hit the headlines in April 2016, when GCU Safeguarding Health through Infection Prevention (SHIP) Research Group produced the first evidence in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) that the WHO’s 6-step hand hygiene guidance was more effective in reducing residual bacterial load on healthcare workers hands than the rival 3-step technique.

However the researchers found that compliance with the six-step technique was lacking, with only 65% completing the entire hand hygiene process correctly.

The study also found that there was no association between the total coverage of hands and the reduction in bacterial load, which suggests that certain areas on hands might be more important than other areas for effective hand decontamination.

This is now the focus of Lucyna’s PhD student’s project which will breakdown the six-step process in the hope of simplifying the process and honing the technique. Funding granted by the IPS has allowed Lucyna to take ownership of a state-of-the-art scanner machine which will be used to assess the effectiveness of each of the steps.

She said: “By using a scanner we hope to provide reliable and more accurate feedback and to breakdown and improve the six-step process. We already know that the six-step process, which is promoted by WHO, is one of the most successful ways to improve hand hygiene but we also know that is not fully adopted by healthcare practitioners. 

“The scanner will allow the analysis to scrutinize each of the steps and breakdown the process to find out what works best and how the process could be simplified to increase healthcare workers’ compliance to this important process.”

The equipment will measure how much of the hands are covered when using different sequences of steps using a florescent dye under UV light to provide feedback to the research team.

Last year, GCU researchers found that the six-step technique reduced the bacterial load from 3.28 to 2.58 colony-forming unites per millitre (CFU/mL), compared to the 3-step technique which reduced the bacterial load from 3.08 to 2.88 CFU/mL.

The World Health Organization is featuring Lucyna's story today

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