Insufficient Evidence to Definitively Determine if One ABHR Format is More Effective in Reducing Pathogen Transmission

Following publication of the 2009 World Health Organizations Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Health Care, a debate has emerged regarding the relative antimicrobial efficacy of the different formats (rinse, gel, foam) of ABHRs and their ability to contribute to reduction of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), say Boyce and Pittet (2024).

The researchers reviewed data regarding the in-vivo antimicrobial efficacy of ABHRs and other factors that likely affect their effectiveness in reducing HAIs, and a comprehensive review of studies that reported the effectiveness of each of the three ABHR formats to improve hand hygiene compliance and reduce HAIs was conducted.

The amount of rubbing time it takes for hands to feel dry (dry time) is the major driver of ABHR antimicrobial efficacy. ABHR format is not a major factor, and several studies found that rinse, gel, and foam ABHRs have comparable in-vivo antimicrobial efficacy. Other factors that likely impact the ability of ABHRs to reduce transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens and HAIs include ABHR formulation, the volume applied to hands, aesthetic characteristics, skin tolerance, acceptance by healthcare personnel, and hand hygiene compliance rates. When accompanied by complementary strategies, promoting the use of each of the three ABHR formats has been associated with improvements in hand hygiene compliance rates. A review of 67 studies failed to identify an ABHR format that was significantly more effective in yielding statistically significant reductions in transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens or HAIs.

Current evidence is insufficient to definitively determine if one ABHR format is more effective in reducing transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens and HAIs. More rigorous studies such as multicenter randomized controlled trials comparing the different formats are needed to establish if one format is significantly more effective in reducing HAIs.

Reference: Boyce JM and Pittet D. Rinse, gel, and foam – is there any evidence for a difference in their effectiveness in preventing infections? Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 13, article number 49 (2024).