Impact of environmental olfactory cues on hand hygiene behaviour in a simulated hospital environment: A randomized study

D. J. Birnbach, D. King, I. Vlaev, L. F. Rosen, P. D. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


This study investigated the impact of a fresh scent on the rate of hand hygiene compliance (HHC) among novice healthcare providers. In all, 165 participants examined a standardized patient with one sample exposed to fresh scent (N=79) and the other exposed to the standard environment (N=86). Hand hygiene behaviours were tracked before patient contact using video surveillance. The standard environment group had an HHC rate of 51% whereas participants in the fresh scent group had a higher HHC rate of 80% (P<0.001). These data demonstrate that hand hygiene behaviour may be subconsciously influenced by cues in the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-81
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013



  • Behavioural assessment
  • Hand hygiene
  • Patient safety
  • Priming
  • Scent
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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