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2007 Hand Hygiene Study/Survey - Key Findings

2007 Handwashing Survey Fact Sheet

Survey Findings

  • Similar to 2005, nine in ten (92%) adults say they always wash their hands after using public restrooms; however, just over three in four (77%) were observed doing so (down from 83% in 2005 and unchanged from 78% observed in 2003).
  • The highest percentage of handwashing among men was observed in Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium (81%). For women, the highest percentage of handwashing was observed in Atlanta’s Turner Field (95%).
    • The overall decline in handwashing observations is largely due to males. The percentage of males observed washing their hands fell from 75% in 2005 to 66% in 2007. Overall, percentage of females observed washing their hands is down slightly from 90% in 2005 to 88% in 2007.
    • The largest decline in observations was seen among San Francisco males, down 15 percentage points from 85% in 2005 to 63% in 2007.
    • The largest decline in observations among females were observed at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago (-12 pts) and Penn Station (-10 pts).
    • The largest gap between male and female handwashing patterns was observed at the Braves baseball game where 95% of women were observed washing their hands compared to 57% of males.
  • Among observational findings from public attractions in four major cities, the lowest percentage of hand washers were in Atlanta (Braves baseball game) and New York City (Penn & Grand Central Stations). The highest percentage of non-washers was observed at Penn Station (28%) and the Braves baseball game (25%).
  • While 92% of adult Americans self-report always washing their hands after using a public restroom and 86% self-report always washing their hands after using the bathroom in their home, only one-quarter (25%) self-report always washing their hands after handling money and one-third (34%) after coughing or sneezing.

Survey Methodology

Part I: Observational Survey

  • Harris Interactive observed the behavior of 6,076 adults (3,065 males and 3,011 females) in public restrooms at six locations in four major U.S. cities (sufficiently equipped with soap, running water and towels) and recorded whether or not they washed their hands after using the facilities.
  • Observers discreetly watched and recorded whether or not adults using public restrooms washed their hands. Observers were instructed to groom themselves (comb their hair, put on make-up, etc.) while observing and to rotate bathrooms every hour or so to avoid counting repeat users more than once. Observers were also instructed to wash their hands no more than 10 percent of the time.
  • The research was conducted from August 17 – August 25, 2007 in public restrooms at Turner Field in Atlanta during an Atlanta Braves baseball game, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Penn Station and Grand Central Station in New York City, and the Ferry Terminal Farmers Market in San Francisco.

Part II: Telephone Survey 

  • Harris Interactive conducted 1,001 telephone interviews with adult Americans. To assure a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population, the data have been stratified by census region and weighted by gender, education and ethnicity.
  • The research was conducted between August 17-20, 2007.

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Detailed Findings - 2007 Hand Hygiene Survey, Recap of Past Surveys