Learn about our latest partnership on a study that evaluates the effectiveness of tools used to explain hand washing and germs.

Hand hygiene is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to kill pathogens and control disease transmission. It’s an action we as a company champion and we’re continually looking for ways to not only share this message ourselves, but support others doing the same. 

One such project is A Germ’s Journey, which teaches the importance of hand washing and health hygiene to a young audience. Our partnership with the team behind it began in 2017 and has progressed so much that their free-at-the-point-of-access educational resources have since been shared with children all over the world.

A series of Germ’s Journey educational workshops were conducted with children from the Early Years Foundation Stage in the UK and Gujarat, India. The studies in India took place in areas of severe socio-economic deprivation, where the understanding of germs and correct hand washing can be life saving. 

During these workshops, the research team were able to look at the effectiveness of the educational resources, and whether they helped the children’s knowledge of hand hygiene and hand washing. The positive results concluded that in fact they did, with signs of an increase in both awareness and understanding.

In addition to this, results from a psychology study found that both immediately, and up to a month after the workshop, children showed a sustained improvement in hand washing. Similarly, 100% of teachers from a focus group in India, who received the Germ’s Journey resources, reported that they are now able to teach hand washing and infection control more regularly and effectively. This has led to better hand washing behaviour and reduced illness associated with diarrhoea and vomiting within the children and wider community. 

Following the positive response and findings of the resources, the next step for the team behind A Germ’s Journey and ourselves was to collaborate on and publish a paper that looks at the use of co-creation as a way to design the educational resources which make up the project. Titled ‘Evaluating approaches to designing effective Co-Created hand-hygiene interventions for children in India, Sierra Leone and the UK’, the UK-based study was conducted by Sapphire Crosby, Sarah Younie, Iain Williamson, and Katie Laird.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of hand hygiene, making the need for A Germ’s Journey and its subsequent research paper, more prevalent than ever. The study also adds to the wealth of research and knowledge already out there which details the percentage of deaths that could be avoided through proper hand washing measures. This includes the fact that almost 60% of deaths due to diarrhoea worldwide are attributable to unsafe drinking water, and poor hygiene and sanitation. UNICEF have highlighted that correct hand washing can cut the risk of diarrhoea by at least 40%, as well as significantly lowering the risk of respiratory infections. 

It all goes to show just how important good hand hygiene is, and such insightful and accurate research is only half the battle; sharing the information to aid understanding is just as important. 

The research article can be read in full, for free, here