Hand Hygiene instruction decreases illness-related absenteeism in elementary schools: a prospective cohort study


Illness-related absences have been shown to lead to negative educational and economic outcomes. Both hand washing and hand sanitizer interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing illness-related absences. However, while the importance of hand hygiene in schools is clear, the role of instruction in use is less obvious. The purpose of this study was to compare absenteeism rates among elementary students given access to hand hygiene facilities versus students given both access and short repetitive instruction in use, particularly during influenza season when illness-related absences are at a peak.

A hand hygiene intervention was implemented from October to May during the 2009/2010 academic year, including peak flu season, in two Chicago Public Elementary Schools among students grades pre-kindergarten to eighth grade (ages 4–14). Classrooms were systematically assigned to an intervention or control group by grade (cluster design). Hand hygiene facilities (sanitizer and soap) were made available to all students. Students in the intervention group also received short repetitive instruction in hand hygiene every 2 months. Only absences as a result of respiratory or gastrointestinal illness were used to establish illness-related absenteeism rates. Percent absent days were calculated and bivariate analyses were performed to compare percent absent days among students given access to hand hygiene facilities versus students given both access and instruction. Prior to the intervention, teachers’ perceptions of students’ hand hygiene were also evaluated. Teacher perceptions were analysed to describe attitudes and beliefs.


The Impact of Student-Directed Videos on Community Asthma Knowledge

The Student Asthma Research Team (START) program was designed to enable students to explore socio-ecological factors contributing to asthma through the use of Photovoice, a technique that gathers both photographs and personal experiences from participants. The photographs taken by and commentary from student participants were integrated into public service announcements (PSAs) intended to increase community asthma awareness and catalyze behavior change. This article evaluates the effectiveness of these student-directed PSAs at improving asthma awareness among peers and community members. READ MORE...

Using Videovoice to Enhance Community Outreach and Engagement for the National Children's Study

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The National Children’s Study is a prospective observational study that examines the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of 100,000+ children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21. Videovoice is a health advocacy and promotion methodology wherein participants learn videography techniques to research issues of concern, communicate their knowledge, and advocate for change. This study describes a videovoice project implemented in Cook County, IL as a vehicle for training lay community members in participatory videographic methods in order to engage communities selected by the National Children’s Study (NCS) for participant recruitment. READ MORE...