SCA Survey Reveals Americans' Handwashing Habits; Consumer Awareness of Importance of Hand Hygiene Grossly Exaggerated
PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- A startling number of Americans may be putting their health at risk by not practicing good hand hygiene. When asked about their specific handwashing habits, a vast majority of adults (71%) say they regularly wash their hands, but that number may be grossly exaggerated. Nearly six in ten (58%) admit that they have witnessed others leaving a public restroom without washing their hands. More than a third of Americans (35%) have witnessed co-workers leaving facilities without washing, and one in five consumers surveyed (20%) have witnessed restaurant employees not washing their hands at all. The worst offenders seem to be men by a significant margin.
(To see an infographic on these results visit http://www.sca.com/en/us/hygiene1/.)
These survey findings were released today by SCA, a global hygiene company and maker of the Tork® brand of away from home paper towels, skin care, napkins, tissue and wipers, to commemorate Global Handwashing Day on October 15. The company conducted the survey to gauge consumer awareness of proper hand hygiene but found that while many Americans recognize that handwashing is an important step to staying healthy, awareness does not necessarily translate into practice.
Sixty percent of adults describe handwashing as being critical to their health, and over half (53%) consider washing their hands thoroughly and regularly to be the most beneficial practice for staying healthy. Yet, respondents also admit to skimping on personal hand hygiene after coming into contact with a number of germy environments and objects. Nearly four in ten adults (39%) admit to not washing their hands after sneezing, coughing or after blowing their nose. More than half of Americans do not typically wash their hands after riding public transportation (56%), using shared exercise equipment (51%) or handling money (53%).
“The average human hand has millions of bacteria, many good, but also sometimes some that can harm health. In addition, we can also carry viruses from touching surfaces that are contaminated,” said Dr. Allison Aiello, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan and a member of SCA’s Tork Green Hygiene Council™. “While over half of SCA’s survey respondents believe that handwashing is important, there are still clear gaps in the relationship between beliefs and practices.”
Men Need to Step Up to the Sink
It seems American men could learn a thing or two about hand hygiene from their female counterparts. The SCA handwashing survey found a dramatic disparity between the sexes when it comes to personal handwashing habits. More than a third of men (33%) admit they do not wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the public restroom compared to just one in five women (20%). Men are also more likely than women to witness others leaving public restrooms without washing their hands (67% of men compared to 48% of women).
In fact, men lag behind women in terms of whether they say they wash their hands in almost every scenario surveyed by SCA. Men are less likely than women to typically wash their hands after handling garbage, touching an animal, or sneezing or coughing. In addition, two-thirds of women (65%) describe handwashing as being critical compared to just over half of men (54%). Men, on the other hand, were more likely to describe handwashing as being a necessary hassle (36% of men compared to 26% of women).
Get Up to Speed on Hand Hygiene
“More work is needed to better understand how educating individuals about hand hygiene can translate into improving practice,” said Dr. Aiello. “We know that handwashing is an effective way to fight the spread of disease by removing harmful bacteria and viruses. Bypassing the sink and soap in the restroom or forgetting to wash after coming into contact with surfaces that are typically contaminated with bacteria or viruses will eventually lead to an infection and possibly days missed at work or school.”
To help increase awareness and help people improve their personal hand hygiene, SCA offers the following tips and facts:
About the SCA Handwashing Survey
The survey was conducted for SCA by KRC Research and involved over 1000 Americans, ages 18 and older. The survey was conducted between October 4 and October 7, 2012 via an online survey.
SCA is a global hygiene and forest company that develops and produces personal care products, tissue, publication papers and solid-wood products. Sales are conducted in some 100 countries. SCA has many well-known brands, and in the U.S. sells the TENA® line of personal care products for light, moderate and heavy incontinence and Tork® brand napkins, paper towels, bath tissue and wipers. Sales in 2011 were approximately $16.5 billion. SCA has about 37,000 employees. For more information visit, www.sca.com/us. TENA® and Tork® are registered trademarks of SCA Hygiene Products.
Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=50439055&lang=en