Health Communication Campaign to Promote Hospital Hand Hygiene: Take Time. Save Lives.

Erin Donovan teaching class

Health Communication Campaign to Promote Hospital Hand Hygiene: Take Time. Save Lives.

By Mike Mackert

One of the things I most appreciate about the field of health communication is the chance to do work with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds on a range of health issues facing different populations. It means a lot of opportunities to explore different health communication problems, and often the lessons learned in one context have utility in another.

A good example of this is hand hygiene promotion. One of my advertising courses once worked on a campus-based hand hygiene promotion campaign, which eventually evolved into a research project we published at the American Journal of Infection Control Think the Sink: Preliminary Evaluation of a Handwashing Promotion Campaign.

I was presenting about that project at a conference, and I was asked if I had ever done work on hand hygiene promotion in the hospital context. I definitely had not, but the shift in context was immediately interesting: there are so many more times per day that those working in a hospital are expected to engage in hand hygiene, and there are different barriers to following all guidelines for hand hygiene.

So we brought together a team with expertise in a number of areas – health communication, visual communication, public health, and infection control – to develop and test a hand hygiene promotion campaign: “Take Time. Save Lives.” We developed a campaign that was focused on hand hygiene as an approach that could protect everyone: patients, hospital workers, and even the family and friends of hospital workers; from a message design standpoint, it was important to let anyone viewing the campaign apply the idea of “protects everyone” to those they viewed as important to protect via improved hand hygiene.

A first study was focused on testing different messages, while a second involved testing the campaign at another hospital to see how the campaign worked a second institution.

Now, the UT Center for Health Communication (CHC) has made these campaign materials available for use for free by anyone who would like to use them. You can download everything you need – an overview document with references, information about how to print the materials, and the campaign materials themselves – to use the campaign. The CHC is dedicated to advancing evidence-based health communication, and making this campaign available is one way to help share the work we’re doing.