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The effect of timers and precommitments on handwashing: a randomised controlled trial in a kitchen laboratory

Thom, James, Bowen, Sarah, Yang, Yuchen, Devarajan, Sanjeev, Doran, Helen, Zampetis, Marios, Papakonstantinou, Trisevgeni, McDonagh, Maria, McPhedran, Robert, Toombs, Ben, Jarchlo, Ayla Ibrahimi, Rayner, Alice, Jones, Philip Edward and Gold, Natalie ORCID: 0000-0003-0706-1618 (2024) The effect of timers and precommitments on handwashing: a randomised controlled trial in a kitchen laboratory. Behavioural Public Policy. ISSN 2398-063X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/bpp.2023.33


Many foodborne illness outbreaks originate in food service establishments. We tested two behavioural interventions designed to improve the duration and quality of handwashing. We ran a three-armed parallel trial in a laboratory kitchen, from 7 March to 27 May 2022. Participants were n = 195 workers who handle food. We randomly allocated participants to three groups: Timer – tap-mounted timer that counted seconds while participants washed their hands; Precommitment – agreed to five statements on good hand hygiene before attending the kitchen; and Control. Participants completed a food preparation task under time pressure. Cameras focused on the sink captured handwashing. Outcome measures were number of times participants washed their hands; number of times they washed their hands using soap; number of times they washed using soap and washed the backs of their hands; and mean duration of handwashing attempts using soap. Participants in Timer washed their hands for 1.9 s longer on average than Control (β = 2.20, 95% CI = 0.34-4.06, p = 0.021). Participants in Precommitment washed their hands for 2.5 s longer on average than Control (β = 2.30, 95% CI = 0.33-4.27, p = 0.022). We found no statistically significant differences on any other outcome measure.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Authors
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: H Social Sciences
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2023 15:30
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2024 19:09

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