Volume 2 Supplement 1

Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control: Abstracts from the 2nd International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control (ICPIC 2013)

Open Access

P143: Teaching the concepts of hand hygiene to undergraduate medical students: the views of key stakeholders

  • R Kaur1,
  • H Razee1 and
  • H Seale1
Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control20132(Suppl 1):P143

DOI: 10.1186/2047-2994-2-S1-P143

Published: 20 June 2013


Currently, hand hygiene (HH) compliance rates amongst Australian medical students are below 70% nationally. Previous attempts to improve medical students’ knowledge of HH have had only short-term successes with follow-up studies reporting poor long-term retention of knowledge worldwide. It has been previously suggested that the importance of HH must be taught to medical students from the first year and integrated into their clinical curricula.


Our study aimed to examine the current practices around teaching concepts of hand hygiene in an Australian tertiary educational institute


In-depth interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of key members of the undergraduate medical teaching team and a sample of medical students (year 1 to 6). Thematic analysis was undertaken on the transcripts.


Teaching hand hygiene to medical students was considered challenging by our participants, as medical students do not rank the subject as ‘important’. It was suggested that medical students are resistant to be taught concepts such as communication or hand hygiene as they consider these things their personal habits. Professional modelling was considered the major barrier in increasing the HH compliance of senior medical students, as these students tend to mimic the behaviour of the senior doctors (‘role models’) regardless of all their teaching and training on HH. Assessing students on their HH knowledge and practice would motivate them to learn the concepts but would only have a short-term impact. The use of peer auditing, scenario based activities and patient feedback were considered as potential options which would reinforce the need to HH and the potential for new opportunities to teach the concepts. The Medical students interviewed rated their hand hygiene compliance as high and hence they felt they would not turn up to classes if hand hygiene were formally taught. Teaching hand hygiene as infection control within a patient safety context was considered a major motivator.

Disclosure of interest

None declared

Authors’ Affiliations

School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales


© Kaur et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.