Program

Jul 16, 2007

OVERVIEW

An intervention was developed to increase hygienic practices among preschool students.  In a random assignment study, students at 40 preschools randomly assigned to take part in the intervention washed their hands with soap significantly more frequently than did students at preschools that did not receive the intervention.  Increases in handwashing did not lead to decreases in rates of absenteeism or illness-related absenteeism, however.

 

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: preschool students

The main emphasis of this intervention was on handwashing with soap before eating and after bathroom use.  Secondary emphasis was placed on eliminating shared cups and towels.  To this end, preschool educators were trained in proper hygiene through lectures, printed materials, and experiential learning.  Preschool children received a presentation from the school nurse and were exposed to a puppet show, games, posters, puzzles, and a video on hygiene.  Children were also taught a ten-second song they could sing while they washed their hands so as to ensure that they washed for an adequate amount of time.  Preschools were provided with liquid soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, and cup racks.

 

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Rosen, L., Manor, O., Engelhard, D., Brody, D., Rosen, B., Peleg, H., Meir, M., & Zucker, D.  (2006).  Can a Handwashing Intervention Make a Difference?  Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial in Jerusalem Preschools.  Preventative Medecine, 42, 27-32.

Evaluated population: 1,029 three and four-year-old children from 40 state-run public preschools in Jerusalem, Israel served as the study sample for this investigation.

Approach: The 40 pre-schools were stratified by sector (secular and religious) and then randomly assigned to either the treatment group or the control group.  469 families from treatment schools were selected to take part in a sub-trial on the home intervention.  These families were randomly assigned to be a part of the home treatment group or the home control group.

Schools assigned to the treatment group took part in the hygiene intervention.  Schools assigned to the control group did not receive any supplies, educational materials, or seminars.

Families assigned to the home treatment group were provided with a video, a card, and a magnet dealing with hadwashing approximately one month after the school intervention began.  Families assigned to the home control group also received a package of materials, but their materials dealt with toothbrushing.

Before the school intervention commenced, baseline levels of handwashing and absenteeism were measured for six days.  There were no significant baseline differences between the groups.  For the subsequent 66 days, intervention effects were studied.  The research team returned to the treatment school three months and six months after the program launch to assess medium- and long-term intervention effects.

Results: Compared with students from control schools, students from treatment schools were significantly more likely to wash their hands before and after lunch three months and six months after program launch.  Students from treatment school were also significantly more likely to wash their hands after bathroom use at both of these time points.

In spite of this increase in handwashing, treatment schools did not experience lower levels of absenteeism or illness-related absenteeism.  Children assigned to the home treatment condition did not have significantly lower rates of absenteeism or illness-related absenteeism than did children assigned to the home control condition.

 

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Rosen, L., Manor, O., Engelhard, D., Brody, D., Rosen, B., Peleg, H., Meir, M., & Zucker, D.  (2006).  Can a Handwashing Intervention Make a Difference?  Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial in Jerusalem Preschools.  Preventative Medecine, 42, 27-32.

 

KEYWORDS: Early Childhood (0-5), Toddlers (12-36 months), Children (3-11), Preschool, School-based, Home-based, Child Care, Early Childhood Education, Physical Health

Program information last updated on 7/16/07.