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2007 Clean Hands Report Card Key Findings

2007 Clean Hands Report CardSM

The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) posed the following questions to four distinct groups – American parents, teachers, students and school nurses/health care professionals – as part of a survey on hand hygiene knowledge and behavior

What do you think is the number one way to prevent colds and flu?

Results:

 
Teachers
School Nurses/ Health Professionals
Students
Parents
Clean hands regularly
97.9%
99.7%
87.2%
50.0%
Healthy diet
1.5%
0.3%
3.0%
25.9%
Immunization
0.0%
0.0%
3.6%
9.4%
Proper sleep
0.4%
0.0%
4.6%
7.1%
Stress Reduction
0.2%
0.0%
0.3%
1.8%
No Prevention
0.0%
0.0%
0.3%
0.0%
Don't Know
0.0%
0.0%
1.0$
5.8%

Insight:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that cleaning your hands is the single most important thing we can do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness to others. Yet just half of American parents know this simple fact. More education is needed as the country faces the potential of its worst cold and flu season.

Approximately how many times do you wash your hands on an average day?

Results:

 
Teachers
School Nurses/ Health Professionals
Students
Parents
1 to 2 times
1.0%
0.9%
3.7%
50.0%
3 to 4 times
8.2%
2.2%
20.6%
25.9%
5 to 6 times
23.1%
8.4%
31.6%
9.4%
7 to 10 times
32.3%
24.0%
22.7%
7.1%
More than 10 times
34.9%
64.2%
16.6%
1.8%
I don't wash my hands
0.0%
0.3%
0.0%
0.0%
Don't Know
0.6%
0.0%
4.9%
5.8%

Insight:
Not surprisingly, school nurses and health professionals report being the most conscientious about frequent hand washing, while mothers were significantly more likely than fathers to wash their hands 10 or more times per day – 59% vs. 36%. SDA reported last year that the number of Americans who wash their hands more than 10 times per average day increased to 42%. In this most recent survey, parents and school nurses/health professionals make the grade but teachers and students have some catching up to do.

When you wash your hands, how long do you typically lather them, or rub them with soap?

Results:

 
Teachers
School Nurses/ Health Professionals
Students
Parents
Less than 10 seconds
9.5%
4.7%
12.0%
10.8%
10 to 15 seconds
36.0%
39.2%
39.1%
31.6%
15 to 20 seconds
34.4%
29.5%
29.8%
23.9%
More than 20 seconds
19.7%
26.3%
16.9%
32.2%
Don't Know
0.4%
0.3%
2.2%
1.4%

Insight:
Nearly one-third of parents say they regularly wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. School nurses and health professionals look as though they could use a little more education.

How often do you wash your hands after you cough or sneeze?

Results:

 
Teachers
School Nurses/ Health Professionals
Students
Parents
Always
27.0%
32.8%
17.8%
30.1%
Frequently
56.4%
56.3%
38.7%
37.2%
Seldom
15.4%
10.6%
36.8%
21.8%
Never
0.8%
0.3%
4.6%
9.6%
Don't Know
0.4%
0.0%
2.1%
1.2%

Insight:
In a 2006 survey, SDA found that 36% of Americans seldom or never wash their hands after they cough or sneeze.  Based on this new research, teachers and school nurses/health professionals go to the head of the class; parents are better than the national average; and students need a refresher course.

How often do you wash your hands before eating lunch?

Results:

 
Teachers
School Nurses/ Health Professionals
Students
Parents
Always
50.0%
69.0%
23.6%
76.4%
Frequently
43.3%
27.6%
44.8%
15.3%
Seldom
6.2%
3.4%
28.5%
6.3%
Never
0.2%
0.0%
2.5%
1.2%
Don't Know
0.4%
0.0%
0.6%
0.8%

Insight:
Germs jump from counters, money, desks and door handles to hands and then lunches if they aren’t stopped.  Handwashing simply is not a priority for students; nearly two-thirds seldom or never wash their hands before eating lunch. 

How often do you wash your hands after going to the bathroom?

Results:

 
Teachers
School Nurses/ Health Professionals
Students
Parents
Always
91.5%
96.9%
78.2%
93.7%
Frequently
7.9%
3.1%
20.9%
4.5%
Seldom
0.6%
0.0%
0.9%
0.5%
Never
0.0%
0.0%
0.0%
0.6%
Don't Know
0.0%
0.0%
0.0%
0.8%

Insight: 
If you compare survey responses with observational studies, there’s a major gap between what people say and what they do.  A 2005 observational study commissioned by SDA and the American Society for Microbiology found that just 83% of people washed their hands after using a public restroom.  If that’s the case, imagine how many students are not always washing their hands after going to the bathroom. 

Did the survey find any significant gender difference?

Results:

 
Mothers
Fathers
Cleaning hands regularly is the number one way to prevent colds and flu
57%
41%
Washing hands 10 or more times pre day
59%
36%
"Never" washing hands after coughing or sneezing
3%
17%
"Always" washing hands after coughing or sneezing
38%
21%
"Always" washing hands after going to the bathroom
97%
89%

Insight: 
Mothers practice significantly better hand hygiene than fathers, but in general, parents could use additional education on the role hand washing plays in preventing colds and flu.

Methodology

An omnibus survey of 664 parents/guardians (311 male and 353 female) of children in grades K-12 was conducted July 26 through August 5, 2007 on behalf of The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), by International Communications Research (ICR). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.

School nurses/health professionals, students and teachers completed surveys at a series of conferences in June and July 2007. Those conferences included the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS), the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Of the 1,190 surveys collected, 508 self-identified as teachers, 356 as health professionals (nearly 9 out of 10 were school nurses) and 326 as students.

Return to SDA 2007 Clean Hands Report Card news release