Hygiene perception changes during the influenza A H1N1 pandemic in Germany: incorporating the results of two cross-sectional telephone surveys 2008-2009.BMC Public Health. 2013 Oct 16; 13:959.BP
The federal campaign Wir gegen Viren [Us against viruses] promoted hygiene in Germany during the influenza A H1N1 pandemic in 2009. The intervention aimed to encourage people to protect themselves against respiratory infections by simple means of hygiene behaviour. Quantitative research was carried out to outline changes in hygiene perception of the population over time, and to find out whether the potential hygiene perception changes were consistent to the federal campaign about hygiene or not.
To determine changes in the hygiene perception of the population, two cross-sectional telephone surveys were held, each one with n = 2006 participants. The initial survey was carried out before the influenza A H1N1 pandemic in calendar week 49-51 in 2008 and the second in week 48 in 2009 directly after the peak of the pandemic in Germany. The questionnaire contained indicators about perceived hand hygiene efficacy, preference for coughing into the sleeve, propensity for presenteeism while showing symptoms of a cold and acceptance of hygiene masks.
The proportion of people who perceive the efficacy of hand washing as "very good" increased significantly from 50.9% in 2008 to 61.1% in 2009. The proportion of people who perceive coughing into the sleeve as the best way to cough increased even more dramatically from 4.8% in 2008 to 38.3% in 2009. In contrast the propensity for presenteeism decreased significantly: The proportion of people who state that they always report to work while they show symptoms of a cold decreased from 50.8% in 2008 to 40.9% in 2009. Acceptance of hygiene masks has not changed significantly from 2008 to 2009.
The results revealed changes in hygiene perception during influenza A H1N1 pandemic in Germany. The changes we found are in accordance with the hygiene recommendations given by the federal campaign Wir gegen Viren [Us against viruses]. Results can constitute a practical benchmark for future research about hygiene perception and hygiene promotion for adults. A pivotal question is: does the increase in hygiene perception persist after the pandemic has ceased?