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J Sch Nurs. 2004 Jun;20(3):161-7.

Healthy Hands: Use of alcohol gel as an adjunct to handwashing in elementary school children.

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Maine School Administrative District #35, Eliot, USA.


Elementary school-age children are particularly vulnerable to infections. While handwashing is the best method of preventing infections, many elementary schools are housed in buildings that have barriers to effective hand hygiene. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of an alcohol gel as an adjunct to handwashing in reducing absenteeism secondary to infectious illness. Two-hundred and fifty-three elementary school children were randomized by classroom into an experimental or control group. With a crossover design, all children participated in both groups, with a one-week washout period between phases. A 45-minute "Germ Unit" was taught to all children as they started the experimental phase and a standard unit on hand hygiene was taught as they started the control phase. Sixty-nine children were absent due to illness while in the control group. Thirty-nine children became ill while in the experimental group. Alcohol gel as an adjunct to handwashing was shown to be effective in reducing absenteeism due to infectious illness by 43%.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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