Objective: To trial a rapid method of assessing acceptability and tolerability of handrub based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Protocol for Evaluation and Comparison of Tolerability and Acceptability of Different Alcohol-based Handrubs”.
Methods: Using a modification of the WHO protocol, we tested 3 unscented personal carry alcohol based hand rub products (A, B, C) containing at least 70% v/v ethanol marketed in our area. Two products were foam (A, B) and 1 was gel (C). Hospital staff was invited to participate by institution-wide emails, posters and hospital newsletter. Sixty participants were randomized to a single blind crossover evaluation in August of 2009. Each participant was randomized to evaluate 2 products for 3-5 days with a 3-4 day washout period. Participants completed questionnaires assessing acceptability and tolerability for each product. An observer objectively evaluated participants’ hands before and after product usage. This evaluation required a full time position for a period of 1 month to sign up participants, answer questions and follow up participants for the duration of their participation.
Results: Most participants were full time (90%), female (73%) and nursing (43%) employees. Participants preferred foam to gel (OR=5.0; 95% CI: 2.1-11.7). Product A was preferred overall to the other two products (72.5%; p=0.01). Texture (76% vs. 33%; p<0.01), speed of drying (82% vs. 56%; p<0.01), application (84% vs. 51%; p<0.01) and overall evaluation (78% vs. 53%; p=0.01) of foam was more pleasant than gel. There were no statistically significant differences in colour, texture, irritation, drying effect, ease of use, speed of drying and application ratings between A and B, but smell was different between these two products (pleasant ratings: 80% A; 40% B; p<0.01). There was an overall positive correlation between smell and overall evaluation of the product (Pearson’s correlation coefficient= 0.40; p<0.01). There were no differences with the observer’s objective hand evaluation comparing hands before and after each product was used.
Conclusions: The WHO evaluation, with site specific modifications, worked well for rapid assessment of acceptability and tolerability of hand hygiene products. Further studies are needed to assess whether hand hygiene adherence improves when product is changed.