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Household Characteristics Associated with Handwashing with Soap in Rural Bangladesh

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  • 1 International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Water and Environmental Sanitation Section, UNICEF Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Handwashing with soap prevents diarrhea and respiratory disease, but it is rarely practiced in high-need settings. Among 100 randomly selected villages in rural Bangladesh, field workers enrolled 10 households per village and observed and recorded household activities for 5 hours. Field workers observed 761 handwashing opportunities among household members in 527 households who had just defecated or who cleaned a child’s anus who had defecated. In the final multivariate analysis, having water available at the place to wash hands after toileting (odds ratio = 2.2, 95% confidence interval 1.3, 4.0) and having soap available at the place to wash hands after toileting (odds ratio = 2.1, 95% confidence interval 1.3, 3.4) were associated with washing both hands with soap after fecal contact. Interventions that improve the presence of water and soap at the designated place to wash hands would be expected to improve handwashing behavior and health.

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