The effect of a hand hygiene intervention on infections in residents of nursing homes: a cluster randomized controlled trial

G.R. Teesing*, J.H. Richardus, D. Nieboer, M. Petrignani, V. Erasmus*, A. Verduijn-Leenman, J.M.G.A. Schols, M.P.G. Koopmans, M.C. Vos, H.A.C.M. Voeten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The primary goal of hand hygiene is to reduce infectious disease rates. We examined if a nursing home's participation in a hand hygiene intervention resulted in residents having fewer healthcare associated infections (HAIs) when compared to nursing homes without the hand hygiene intervention.

Methods: This study is a part of a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) in 33 nursing homes to improve hand hygiene (HANDSOME). The incidence of five illnesses was followed over 13 months: gastroenteritis, influenza-like illness, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and infections from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Incidence rates per study arm were reported for baseline (October-December 2016) and two follow-up periods (January-April 2017, May-October 2017). HAI rates were compared in a Poisson multilevel analysis, correcting for baseline differences (the baseline infection incidence and the size of the nursing home), clustering of observations within nursing homes, and period in the study.

Results: There was statistically significantly more gastroenteritis (p < 0.001) and statistically significantly less influenza-like illness (p < 0.01) in the intervention arm when compared to the control arm. There were no statistically significant differences or pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and MRSA infections in the intervention arm when compared to the control arm. In a sensitivity analysis, gastroenteritis was no longer statistically significantly higher in the intervention arm (p = 0.92).

Conclusions: As in comparable studies, we could not conclusively demonstrate the effectiveness of an HH intervention in reducing HAIs among residents of nursing homes, despite the use of clearly defined outcome measures, a standardized reporting instrument, and directly observed HH in a multicenter cluster RCT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number80
Number of pages9
JournalAntimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021


  • Healthcare associated infections
  • Nursing homes
  • Hand hygiene

Cite this