Online program encouraging ‘hand-washing’ cuts risk of falling sick

By: | Published: August 7, 2015 4:15 PM

Scientists have found that internet based program promoting the importance of hand washing reduces the risk of catching and transferring flu virus.

Scientists have found that internet based program promoting the importance of hand washing reduces the risk of catching and transferring flu virus.

In a randomised trial of more than 16000 UK households by University of Southampton, users of the programme, called PRIMIT [1], also reported fewer gastrointestinal infections, a lower demand for consultations with their doctors, and fewer antibiotic prescriptions.

Lead author Professor Paul Little said that as per their findings, a simple, cheap internet programme could help slash the risk of catching respiratory infections by around 14 percent. This could have an important impact on reducing the spread of these viruses in the general population, and also help reduce the pressure on NHS services during the winter months.

The study examined the real-world effectiveness of PRIMIT, a free-access, interactive, web-based programme. The programme has four weekly sessions which explain medical evidence, encourage users to learn simple techniques to avoid catching and passing on viruses, monitor handwashing behaviour, and provide tailored feedback.

The study is published in The Lancet.

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