Effect of hand hygiene on infectious diseases in the office workplace: A systematic review

Published:November 28, 2017DOI:


      • As in clinical and community settings, hand hygiene is likely effective at reducing infectious diseases in the workplace.
      • Providing more opportunities for hand hygiene is effective at improving hand hygiene and reducing the incidence of infectious diseases.
      • Hand-hygiene programs may improve employee morale and attitude toward their workplace.


      Extensive data suggests that hand hygiene is a critical intervention for reducing infectious disease transmission in the clinical setting. However, it is unclear whether hand hygiene is effective at cutting down on infectious illnesses in non-clinical workplaces. The aim of this review is to assess the current literature concerning the effects of hand-washing interventions on infectious disease prevention among employees in nonclinical, office-based workplaces.


      In compiling this review, PubMed, Scopus, and Business Source Premier were examined for studies published from 1960 through 2016.


      Eleven studies (eight experimental, two observational, one a simulation) were identified as eligible for inclusion. Hand-hygiene interventions at various levels of rigor were shown to reduce self-reported illness symptoms.


      Hand hygiene is thought to be more effective against gastrointestinal illness than it is against respiratory illness, but no clear consensus has been reached on this point. Minimal hand-hygiene interventions seem to be effective at reducing the incidence of employee illness. Along with reducing infections among employees, hand-hygiene programs in the workplace may provide additional benefits to employers by reducing the number of employee health insurance claims and improving employee morale. Future research should use objective measures of hand hygiene and illness, and explore economic impacts on employers more fully.

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