Hand hygiene is an important measure in reducing the transmission of nosocomial infections in hospitals, but adherence is poor among health care workers (HCWs).More rapid and effective hand disinfection procedures have been proposed, such as rubbing with alcohol.
Hand rubbing with alcohol-based products is commonly used in some countries instead of handwashing. This review evaluates the scientific and clinical evidence on the use of alcohol-based hand rubs in health care settings as a new option for hand hygiene.
To conduct a systematic review to determine the best available evidence related to effectiveness of alcohol-based solutions for hand hygiene
. The specific review questions addressed were: the effectiveness in reducing microorganisms, compliance with hand hygiene
, and the incidence of skin problems. Application time (consumption) addressed efficiency.
Criteria for considering studies in this review
This review considered all studies that included alcohol-based solutions that related to the objectives of the review. Outcomes included measures for the reduction of organisms, compliance with hand hygiene
, the types of skin problems, and application time. The review primarily considered any intra-individual trials (IITs), randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled clinical trials (CCTs) relating to the effectiveness of alcohol-based solutions but also included quasi-experimental designs.
Search strategy for identification of studies
The search sought to find published and unpublished studies. The databases searched included: Medline, CINAHL, ProQuest and Dissertation Abstracts International. Studies were additionally identified from reference lists of all studies retrieved.
Assessment and data extraction
All studies were checked for methodological quality by two reviewers and data were extracted using a tool.
The study results were pooled in statistical meta-analysis using Review Manager software and summarized in narrative form where statistical pooling was not appropriate or possible.
This systematic review included thirty seven studies that supports the use of alcohol-based solutions for routine hand hygiene
and surgical hand scrub. Alcohol-based hand rub removes microorganisms from hands of personnel more effectively, requires less time, and irritates hands less often than traditional handwashing with nonmedicated soap or other antiseptic agents and water. The combination of 61% ethanol and 1% chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) is even more effective in producing residual antibacterial properties on the skin. Furthermore, the availability of bedside alcohol-based solutions increased compliance with hand hygiene
Rubbing hands with alcohol-based agents has been proved to be effective in the reduction of microorganisms from hands. Alcohols are effective for preoperative cleaning of the hands of surgical personnel. Addition of CHG to alcohol-based solution can produce residual antibacterial properties on the skin. The use of alcohol-based solutions containing emollients causes less skin irritation and dryness and requires less time than washing hands with soap or other disinfectants. The promotion of bedside, alcohol-based hand rubs contributes to the increase in compliance with hand hygiene