Introduction Occupational hand dermatitis (OHD) is a major risk for health care workers (HCW) due to frequent exposure to ‘wet work’. With an estimated point prevalence of OHD ranging between 12%–30%, nurses are at highest risk. There is a big burden of disease due to chronicity, absenteeism, risk of unemployment and impaired quality of life. Despite evidence and guidelines on the importance of skin care in the prevention of OHD, use of hand creams during work is reported to be very low. New preventive strategies are obviously needed.
Methods A cluster randomised controlled trial has been initiated in nurses performing wet work, with a follow-up of 18 months. Twenty wards have been recruited to include 504 participating nurses in the study at baseline. Nurses in the control and intervention wards received health education about optimal hand care every three months from baseline. The intervention wards were additionally provided with hand creams in dispensers equipped with the electronic system for the continuous registration of cream consumption. Regular feedback on skin care performance at ward level was provided by using posters. At baseline and 12 months clinical examination of the skin condition was done using the Hand Eczema Severity Index (HECSI score). In addition, stratum corneum samples were collected for analysis of epidermal levels of Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF), as an early biomarker of skin barrier damage. All participants completed questionnaires regarding exposure to wet work and skin protective behaviour during the study period.
Results The design of the study and a summary of the main results will be presented at the session
Discussion This trial will assess whether provision of hand creams coupled with continuous monitoring and regular feedback on its consumption improves skin condition in healthcare workers
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