Boosting Patient Participation in Hygiene Measures

The prevention of nosocomial infections requires participation from the patients themselves. In the past, however, patients have been apprehensive to point out hygiene-relevant behavior to personnel.

In the project AHOI, conducted by Görig, et al. (2019), the possibilities of active patient involvement in infection prevention are identified, tested and realized. The goal is a prevention strategy based upon three dimensions: adherence, empowerment and acceptance. “AHOI” stands for the “Activation of patients, persons in need of care and care givers for a Hygiene-conscious participatiOn in Infection control." Results from the AHOI pilot study on the implementation of a multimodal intervention bundle are reported.

In 2017, a two-stage patient survey was conducted on two surgical wards for 14 weeks. In addition to the intervention bundle, acceptance, adherence and empowerment regarding individual hygiene behaviour and perception were evaluated. The bundle included an AHOI-welcome-box with an informational and entertaining brochure and supportive incentives. Furthermore, multiple visual materials like video presentations for patients’ bedside TV, posters and visual reminders in the patients’ bedrooms and sanitary facilities were installed.

179 respondents were surveyed at admission, 139 at discharge and 133 at both time points. Almost all respondents wanted to contribute to infection control. The AHOI project was well accepted by patients. Two-thirds wanted to be more involved. More than one-third expected a negative response from staff after pointing out hygiene deficiencies. Four respondents observed a deficiency in hygiene with healthcare personnel and reported a very positive reaction once this was communicated to the personnel. More than four-fifths of the respondents felt well integrated and adequately informed post intervention. The feeling of active involvement correlated significantly with subjective participation and adherence to hygienic measures, especially self-reported hand disinfection.

The researchers say the results demonstrated that the required inclusion of patients in infection control is possible with AHOI. Active involvement of patients and relatives is associated with improvements in adherence to infection prevention measures.

Reference: Görig T, et al. Active involvement of patients and relatives improves subjective adherence to hygienic measures, especially self-reported hand hygiene: Results of the AHOI pilot study. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 8, No. 201. 2019.

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