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Int J Environ Health Res. 2007 Jun;17(3):161-83.

How often do you wash your hands? A review of studies of hand-washing practices in the community during and after the SARS outbreak in 2003.

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Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, St Mary's Campus, Norfolk Place, London, UK.


We reviewed evidence of hand-washing compliance in community settings during the 2003 SARS outbreak. Literature was searched through PubMed, Cochrane Library, Wan Fang database and Google. English and Chinese papers were reviewed. Studies containing data on hand-washing, self-reported or directly observed, in community settings were selected. Case-control studies and studies in healthcare settings were excluded. Fourteen studies were reviewed. Self-reported hand-washing compliance increased in the first phase of the SARS outbreak and maintained a high level 22 months after the outbreak. The decline of hand-washing in Hong Kong after SARS was relatively slow. A significant gender difference in hand-washing compliance (female > male) was found in eight studies. The importance of family support and 'significant female others' in hand hygiene promotion are noted. The impact of education is uncertain. Perceived susceptibility to and severity of SARS, and perceived efficacy of hand-washing in preventing SARS, also predicted self-reported hand-washing compliance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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