Nigerian Health Journal

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Hand washing practices amongst medical students in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

PI Opara, BA Alex-Hart


Background: Hand washing with soap and water is one of the most effective and inexpensive means of preventing infections. Rates of hand washing are low world wide even amongst health care workers who are should know about its importance. The aim of the study was to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes and hand washing practices both in and outside the hospital amongst medical students in Port Harcourt.
Method: This was a descriptive cross sectional survey carried out amongst randomly selected fourth to sixth year medical students of the University of Port Harcourt. A simple questionnaire exploring perceptions, attitudes and self reported behavior was used. Information obtained included biodata, awareness information and practice. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results: Two hundred and sixty one students participated in the study with a M: F of 1.5:1. Diarrhea diseases were most commonly recognised as being associated with contaminated hands. 37.6% washed their hands regularly after interacting with their patients while 33.9% did so only after the days work. 58.3% and 58.9% washed hands before meals and after defecating respectively. Use of soap was generally low. The greatest motivation for hand washing was fear of contracting disease, whilst constraints included lack of soap, forgetfulness and inconveniently located sinks.
Conclusion: Hand washing rates are low amongst medical students in Port Harcourt. There is need for regular education and re-education.

Key words: Hand washing practices; medical students; Port Harcourt.

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