Acceptability and tolerability of alcohol-based hand hygiene products for elderly residents in long-term care: A crossover study

Margaret O'Donoghue, Jacqueline M.C. Ho, Didier Pittet, Lorna K.P. Suen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Background: Hand hygiene is a critical component of infection control. Much of the focus on improving hand hygiene in healthcare settings has been directed towards healthcare worker compliance but its importance for patients, including those in long-term care facilities (LTCFs), is increasingly being recognised. Alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) can lead to improved compliance. We aimed to determine acceptability and tolerability of two ABHRs for hand hygiene of elderly LTCF residents using a modified version of the WHO protocol. Methods: Thirty six elderly LTCF residents participated in this crossover study. A modified and translated (Chinese) version of the WHO protocol for evaluation of two or more ABHRs was used to determine product acceptability and tolerability for one gel (bottle with reclosable cap) and one foam (pump). During the 3-day testing period, participants were provided with their own portable bottle of ABHR. A research nurse objectively assessed the skin integrity of the hands at baseline and throughout the study. Skin moisture content was determined using a Scalar Moisture Checker Probe (Science Technology Resources, Ca, USA). Participants rated ABHR tolerability and acceptability using the WHO checklist at the end of each test period. Results: Both products passed the WHO criteria for acceptability and tolerability. The foam (86%) scored higher than the gel (51%) for ease of use possibly because some participants found the cap of the gel bottle difficult to open due to finger stiffness. No evidence of damage to skin integrity was observed. Overall, skin moisture content had improved by the end of the study. Residents preferred either of the test products to the liquid formulation currently in use by the LTCF. Conclusions: Overall, the elderly were willing to use ABHR for hand hygiene. Both products were well tolerated and preferred over the usual product provided by the LTCF. However, forgetfulness and difficulty rubbing the product over the hands due to finger stiffness posed a challenge for some residents. This could be overcome by using healthcare worker-assisted hand hygiene at specified times each day and prompts to serve as reminders to perform hand hygiene.

Original languageEnglish
Article number165
JournalAntimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2019


  • Acceptability
  • Alcohol-based hand rub
  • Hand hygiene
  • Long-term care facility; Elderly hand hygiene; Tolerability
  • World Health Organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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