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Shame Boosts Hand Washing: Study

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Shame can make people more likely to use soap to wash their hands after using the toilet, according to British researchers.

They studied peoples' use of soap in response to hygiene messages posted in service station washrooms and found that the highest rate of proper hand washing occurred when the message asked, "Is the person next to you washing with soap?" BBC News reported.

Overall, 32 percent of men and 64 percent of women washed their hands with soap. That increased by 12 percent in men and 11 percent in women when the message, "Is the person next to you washing with soap?" was flashed on an LED screen at the washroom entrance.

"What other people think -- what is deemed to be acceptable behavior -- is probably a key determinant in shaping behavior," said study leader Gaby Judah, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, BBC News reported. "It was interesting to see that, for men, the more people there were in the (washroom), the more likely they were to wash their hands with soap."

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for sharing Hilpal. I work for the US Government and we have signs in our restroom that tells us to sing Happy Birthday while washing our hands as that will be long enough to remove the bacteria from our hands. Ok, I am not sure I believe this scenario and I do not practice such request although I always use hand sanitizers. I thought this was funny when I first saw the sign though.

October 17, 2009 - 9:54am

The Government of Indonesia has started a hand washing campaign to address swine flu concerns, but I've read that many of the liquid soaps contain bacteria - mainly through unsafe decanting and storage I think. I've also read that drying hands properly using clean towels is very important. These days, rather than washing my hands in the public bathroom, I use my own supply of antiseptic 'hand sanitisers' . If I was observed in the above study it would look as though I am extremely antisocial non-hand washer. Many thanks for another interesting article.

October 17, 2009 - 3:42am
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