Volume 95, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Household members of cholera patients are at a 100 times higher risk of cholera than the general population. Despite this risk, there are only a handful of studies that have investigated the handwashing practices among hospitalized diarrhea patients and their accompanying household members. To investigate handwashing practices in a hospital setting among this high-risk population, 444 hours of structured observation was conducted in a hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, among 148 cholera patients and their household members. Handwashing with soap practices were observed at the following key events: after toileting, after cleaning the anus of a child, after removing child feces, during food preparation, before eating, and before feeding. Spot-checks were also conducted to observe the presence of soap at bathroom areas. Overall, 4% (4/103) of key events involved handwashing with soap among cholera patients and household members during the structured observation period. This was 3% (1/37) among cholera patients and 5% (3/66) for household members. For toileting events, observed handwashing with soap was 7% (3/46) overall, 7% (1/14) for cholera patients, and 6% (2/32) for household members. For food-related events, overall observed handwashing with soap was 2% (2/93 overall), and 0% (0/34) and 3% (2/59) for cholera patients and household members, respectively. Soap was observed at only 7% (4/55) of handwashing stations used by patients and household members during spot-checks. Observed handwashing with soap at key times among patients and accompanying household members was very low. These findings highlight the urgent need for interventions to target this high-risk population.


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  • Received : 12 May 2016
  • Accepted : 09 Aug 2016

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