Interventions to Increase Hand Hygiene Behavior among University Students: Implications for Response Cost and Socially-Assisted Interventions

Angela K Fournier, Thomas D Berry


A field study was conducted to examine the effect of interventions to increase hand-hygiene behavior of university students. Student patrons of a university cafeteria were observed during lunch. Across several phases, researchers observed and recorded the number of students (a) entering the restroom to wash hands and (b) using a hand-sanitizer gel. Interventions included an informational poster, hand-sanitizer dispenser, and change agent to increase hand-hygiene behavior. Results showed that the presence of a strategically placed hand-sanitizer dispenser was effective in increasing hand-hygiene behavior from 1.52% to over 60% (average n = 208 students per day). Participants were particularly responsive to the hand-sanitizer dispenser when combined with a change agent. Meanwhile, the tested interventions were ineffective in increasing the number of students entering a restroom to hand wash. The results are discussed regarding response cost and socially-mediated consequences of change agents.


hand hygiene, hand-sanitizer gels, hand washing, change agent interven-tions, social assistance

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility