Introduction The high prevalence of hand dermatitis in nurses is attributed to frequent hand washing with soap and infrequent use of hand moisturisers. We tested the hypothesis that a behavioural change programme (BCP) coupled with hand moisturisers, can reduce the prevalence of hand dermatitis in at-risk nurses over a 12- month period.
Methods We conducted a cluster randomised design at 35 sites. We recruited two groups of at-risk nurses:
first year student nurses with a history of atopic tendency;
intensive care unit (ICU) nurses.
The BCP was offered to participants at intervention plus sites only and participants were asked to form implementation intentions for performing each hand care behaviour in the workplace. Student nurses were provided with personal supplies of hand creams and ICU nurses encouraged to make use of the moisturisers on the wards. All participants, including those at intervention light sites, were provided with an advice leaflet on optimal hand care. Participants had their hands photographed at baseline and 12 months and these were objectively assessed by a dermatology research nurse and two dermatologists. We also measured changes in hand dermatitis, beliefs and behaviours and collected health economic data.
Results Overall the results indicate that the intervention had a positive (but not statistically significant at 5% level) effect in reducing the prevalence of hand dermatitis compared to usual care and had a positive effect in changing behaviours and beliefs associated with dermatitis prevention. The BCP was also found to be of low cost to implement. (Please note, final results were not available by the abstract submission date but will be provided to the Secretariat in due course).
Discussion A hand-dermatitis prevention BCP plus optimal provision of hand moisturisers has been shown to be effective in reducing hand dermatitis in nurses.
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