Original Research

Knowledge of final-year medical students at the University of the Free State of hand hygiene as a basic infection control measure

M. Bouwer, S. Labuschagne, S. Spamer, C. Vermaak, L-M. Zietsman, D. Steyn, G. Joubert
South African Family Practice | Vol 60, No 3 : May/June| a4883 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v60i3.4883 | © 2019 M. Bouwer, S. Labuschagne, S. Spamer, C. Vermaak, L-M. Zietsman, D. Steyn, G. Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 October 2019 | Published: 12 July 2018

About the author(s)

M. Bouwer, University of the Free State, South Africa
S. Labuschagne, University of the Free State, South Africa
S. Spamer, University of the Free State, South Africa
C. Vermaak, University of the Free State, South Africa
L-M. Zietsman, University of the Free State, South Africa
D. Steyn, University of the Free State, South Africa
G. Joubert, University of the Free State, South Africa

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Abstract

Background: One of the main reasons for the spread of infection in the healthcare environment is inadequate hand hygiene. Poor knowledge of hand hygiene techniques leads to poor compliance. This study aimed to determine Free State University finalyear medical students’ knowledge of hand hygiene as a basic infection control measure. 
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study using self-administered anonymous questionnaires. The questions and memorandum were based on an extensive literature review with WHO documentation on the guidelines for hand hygiene in health care. Each participant received an envelope with an optical computer card, questionnaire and information document during a pre-arranged class. Participants recorded their answers on the card by shading in the squares corresponding to their responses.
Results: The average score of the 107 participants was 46.8% (range 10.1–73.6%). Participants who felt that they had basic knowledge of hand hygiene (n = 32, 30.5%) had an average score of 47.9%. Participants with a self-reported knowledge level of more than basic but less than advanced (n = 56, 53.3%) had an average score of 44.9% while those who reported advanced knowledge (n = 17, 16.2%) had an average score of 50.8%. Three-quarters (n = 81, 77.1%) felt that their training was sufficient. Only 53.3% knew that the most important way to prevent the spread of infection is good hand hygiene. Only 10.5% of the students knew that hands should not be rinsed with water after using alcohol-based sanitisers.
Conclusion: Medical students have a poor level of knowledge regarding hand hygiene as a basic measure of infection control.


Keywords

hand hygiene; infection control; knowledge; medical students

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