Perceptions of hand hygiene practices in China

C. T. Yuan, L. M. Dembry, B. Higa, M. Fu, H. Wang, E. H. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hand hygiene is considered one of the most important infection control measures for preventing healthcare-associated infections. However, compliance rates with recommended hand hygiene practices in hospitals remain low. Previous literature on ways to improve hand hygiene practices has focused on the USA and Europe, whereas studies from developing countries are less common. In this study, we sought to identify common issues and potential strategies for improving hand hygiene practices in hospitals in China. We used a qualitative survey design based on in-depth interviews with 25 key hospital and public health staff in eight hospitals selected by the Chinese Ministry of Health. We found that hospital workers viewed hand hygiene as paramount to effective infection control and had adequate knowledge about proper hand hygiene practices. Despite these positive attitudes and adequate knowledge, critical challenges to improving rates of proper hand hygiene practices were identified. These included lack of needed resources, limited organisational authority of hospital infection control departments, and ineffective use of data monitoring and feedback to motivate improvements. Our study suggests that a pivotal issue for improving hand hygiene practice in China is providing infection control departments adequate attention, priority, and influence within the hospital, with a clear line of authority to senior management. Elevating the place of infection control on the hospital organisational chart and changing the paradigm of surveillance to continuous monitoring and effective data feedback are central to achieving improved hand hygiene practices and quality of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-162
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Hand hygiene
  • Healthcare-associated infection
  • Infection control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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