Skip to main content

Effectiveness of alcohol-based hand disinfectants in a public administration: Impact on health and work performance related to acute respiratory symptoms and diarrhoea



The economical impact of absenteeism and reduced productivity due to acute infectious respiratory and gastrointestinal disease is normally not in the focus of surveillance systems and may therefore be underestimated. However, large community studies in Europe and USA have shown that communicable diseases have a great impact on morbidity and lead to millions of lost days at work, school and university each year. Hand disinfection is acknowledged as key element for infection control, but its effect in open, work place settings is unclear.


Our study involved a prospective, controlled, intervention-control group design to assess the epidemiological and economical impact of alcohol-based hand disinfectants use at work place. Volunteers in public administrations in the municipality of the city of Greifswald were randomized in two groups. Participants in the intervention group were provided with alcoholic hand disinfection, the control group was unchanged. Respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms and days of work were recorded based on a monthly questionnaire over one year. On the whole, 1230 person months were evaluated.


Hand disinfection reduced the number of episodes of illness for the majority of the registered symptoms. This effect became statistically significant for common cold (OR = 0.35 [0.17 - 0.71], p = 0.003), fever (OR = 0.38 [0.14-0.99], p = 0.035) and coughing (OR = 0.45 [0.22 - 0.91], p = 0.02). Participants in the intervention group reported less days ill for most symptoms assessed, e.g. colds (2.07 vs. 2.78%, p = 0.008), fever (0.25 vs. 0.31%, p = 0.037) and cough (1.85 vs. 2.00%, p = 0.024). For diarrhoea, the odds ratio for being absent became statistically significant too (0.11 (CI 0.01 - 0.93).


Hand disinfection can easily be introduced and maintained outside clinical settings as part of the daily hand hygiene. Therefore it appears as an interesting, cost-efficient method within the scope of company health support programmes.

Trial registration number


Peer Review reports


Absenteeism and reduced productivity due to communicable illness, in particular acute infectious respiratory and gastrointestinal disease, are a major problem for national economies worldwide [15]. But because acute upper respiratory infections ("common cold") or mild cases of infectious gastrointestinal illness have a very low mortality, are in most cases short timed and self limiting they are assumed to be less costly per case than chronic conditions. Therefore, their economical impact is often underestimated and they are normally not in the focus of surveillance systems. However, large community studies in Europe and in USA have shown that communicable diseases have a great impact on morbidity and lead to millions of lost days at work, school and university each year [6]. Fendrick et al., for example, estimated the total economic impact of non-influenza-related viral respiratory tract infections in the USA with $40 billion annually. Due to their high prevalence in working-age groups they have the potential to cause substantial health-related productivity losses [7]. This results not only in missed work time and caregiver absenteeism, but in high on-the-job productivity loss due to impaired work performance, too [7]. It has been shown that acute upper respiratory illnesses can reduce one's effectiveness at work, including subjective alertness and psychomotor [5, 815]. Economical investigations have proven that besides direct illness costs, indirect costs due to missed work time (absenteeism), caregiver absenteeism and on-the-job productivity loss, accounts for the biggest part of expenses caused by acute communicable illness [7].

While no specific protection exists against these diseases, personal hygiene, especially hand hygiene, has been acknowledged as a key element to prevent the spread in the community [16]. The efficacy of hand disinfection in medical facilities has been demonstrated a number of times [1724]. Studies assessing the effect of the implementation of hand-hygiene regiments in non-clinical settings such as children day cares, school and university campuses or military training camps have also shown significant reductions in communicable illness and absenteeism rates [2528]. The effectiveness of hand disinfection in open community work place settings like a public administration however has not been assessed so far. Our study provides an initial investigation of the impact of alcohol-based hand disinfectant use at work place by assessing illness rates due to common cold and diarrhoea. We furthermore estimate the economic benefits to be expected by further application of hand disinfection at work.


Enrolment of participants and data collection

This study involved a prospective, controlled, randomized design. We recruited employees from the administration of the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Greifswald, the municipality of Greifswald and the state of Mecklenburg-Pomerania, for the study. All administrative officers, who do not already apply hand disinfection at work, were considered for participation and got invited by e-mail or mail (n = 850). 134 persons declared their written consent to participate and completed a pre-study survey with demographic, social, health and work related questions to provide data for randomization. Participants were randomized in control (n = 67) and intervention (n = 67) group based on the frequency of customer contact and work with paper documents, especially archive materials (Figure 1, Table 1). Based on the existing literature, we hypothesised, that these factors have the most relevant impact on the transmission of pathogenic organisms in administrations and therefore set as covariates [2940]. Employees that already used hand disinfectants at work were excluded from the study.

Figure 1
figure 1

Flow chart showing randomization of participants.

Table 1 Randomisation and distribution of evaluable participants to groups (total(control/intervention))

Two alcohol based hand rubs were used in this study: Amphisept E® (Bode Chemie, Hamburg, Germany) is an ethanol (80% w/w) based formula and has antibacterial, antifungal and limited virus inactivating activity. Participants facing skin problems (increased dryness, redness, itching, reported by participants) were provided with Sterillium® (Bode Chemie, Hamburg, Germany) which is based on 2-propanol (45% w/w), 1-propanol (30% w/w) and mecetronium etilsulfate (0.2% w/w), is known to have a refatting effect and has activity against bacteria, fungi and enveloped viruses [4143]. Both products fulfil the requirements of the DIN EN 12791 (surgical hand disinfection) and DIN EN 1500 (hygienic hand disinfection) and can therefore be seen as equally effective [44, 45]. Rubs were provided in 500 ml bottles for desktop use to ensure minimal effort for use. For skin care, all participants in the intervention group were provided with hand cream care Baktolan® balm, water-in-oil-emulsion with no non-antibacterial properties (Bode Chemie, Hamburg, Germany).

Participants in the intervention group were instructed to use as much product as needed for complete wetting of the hands (at least 3 ml or a palmful) of hand rub to ensure in accordance with the DIN EN 1500 (standard procedure) and advised to use it at least five times daily, especially after toilet use, blowing nose, before eating and after contact with ill colleagues, customers, and archive material [44].

Participants were provided with hand rub as needed and instructed to use the hand rub only at work, while hand hygiene at home was not changed.

Hand hygiene remained unchanged in the control group. During the study, close contact was maintained with all participants. This included individual contact (at least monthly) either personally or by phone or e-mail. All participants were provided with contact details and could contact the study management at any time.

The study was started in March 2005 and lasted until April 2006. Surveys were sent to participants of both groups collecting data on illness symptoms (common cold, sinusitis, sore throat, fever, cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, diarrhoea) and associated absenteeism at the end of every month. Definitions of symptoms were given to the participants as part of the individual information at the beginning of the study. While most symptoms are quite self-explanatory, "influenza" and "pneumonia" are specific diagnoses that were asked state when confirmed by professional dia-gnosis only. Similarly, (self-)diagnosis of "fever" required objective measurement with a thermometer. Furthermore, compliance with hand hygiene measures was queried [46, 47]. Test persons reported illness (ill but not absent) and absenteeism (absent from work due to illness) days per month separately for each symptom. Appearance of at least one day ill was counted as an illness episode for the current month. There was no distinction made between the number of episodes within a month. After 12 months, participants filled out a post-study survey to assess post-intervention compliance with hand hygiene [48]. Ethical approval for the study was obtained from the ethics committee of the University of Greifswald, Germany (Reg. No.: BB 02/10) and registered with the ISRCTN-register (Reg. No.: ISRCTN96340690.

Statistical analysis

All data from surveys was collected in a database (Microsoft Access 2003, Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA, USA) and analysed in SPSS 15 (SPSS Chicago Inc.).

To analyse the number of independent episodes of illness or absence, the number of months with and without symptoms or absence was determined, respectively. The odds ratio (OR) and confidence intervals between the two groups were then calculated and the Χ2- Test used to detect statistically significant differences between groups (significance level p = 0.05).

To test for statistically significant differences in the total number of days absent or ill data were analysed using multivariate tests. Because data were shown to break the assumptions for parametric procedures, univariate and multivariate analysis of variance (ANOVA/MANOVA) or covariance (ANCOVA/MANCOVA) were not applicable. Therefore we used the non-parametric approach of Puri and Sen's L-statistic to analyse data [49, 50]. Frankly, the L-statistic, as other non-parametric test like the Wilcoxon-test, first changes data in each variable to ranks by assigning the rank of 1 to the lowest (or highest score) 2 to the next and so on up to the number of participants. Thereafter uni- or multivariate tests are performed using the ranked data. From the tests summary table, r2 as the proportion of true variance (SSregression/SStotal) is calculated and used to calculate L using the Equation (N = number of participants):

L = ( N 1 ) r ²

The L-statistic is then compared to Χ2 with pq-degrees of freedom (p = number of independent variables, q = number of dependent variables). This method is robust against violations of the described assumptions and has been shown to be superior to its parametric pendants in terms of power and type one error, when assumptions are broken [51].

At first, a non-parametric MANCOVA using the L-Statistic was used to test for global differences for all symptoms and associated days absent as omnibus test. Special effects were then determined using non-parametric ANCOVA. Differences in the number of days absent were only assessed if differences for the associated days ill were significant [52].


From 850 employees asked to participate, 134 could be included in the study and data from 129 participants (64 in the intervention and 65 in the control group) were finally analyzable. During the trial, 10 participants (15.6%) switched from Amphisept E to Sterillium.

Persons (n = 5) who did not return at least one evaluable survey were excluded from the analysis. Every returned survey was counted as one person month. Overall, datasets of 1230 person months (79.46% of total possible follow-up surveys) were collected.

Compliance with hand hygiene was high during the study. Mean hand disinfection frequency reported was more than 5 times daily in 19%, 3-5 times daily in 59.8%, and 1-2 times daily in 20.5% of the person month. In only 0.7% of person month an average frequency of hand disinfection lower than 1 per day was reported. There was no statistically significant change in compliance during the study (Χ2-test, p = 0,387) [46, 47].

Data from pre-study survey

Randomization in both groups was based on frequency of customer contact and contact with archive materials. According to the pre-study survey, participants were allocated to one of six groups, which were then randomly split by half into control and intervention group and as equally as possible (table 1). From all participants 45.7% declared to have customer contact frequently and 46.5% to have contact to archive materials daily

There were no significant differences in the mean age, size of household, number of children, smoking, exercise frequency or means of transportation to work. (table 2). The difference in the distribution of women and men between the groups was unintentional.

Table 2 Baseline demographic data of evaluable participants

Effect on the number of single episodes of illness or absence

Odds for being (ever) ill or absent and odds ratios (OR) between groups are presented in table 3 and 4. Frankly, hand disinfection lowered the odds to get ill with the exception of sinusitis and bronchitis. This effect became statistically significant for common cold (OR = 0.35 [±95% Confidence Interval (CI):0.17 - 0.71], p = 0.003), fever (OR = 0.38 [CI: 0.14 - 0.99], p = 0.035) and coughing (OR = 0.45 [CI: 0.22 - 0.91], p = 0.02). For absenteeism, this trend continued, with the addition that the difference became statistically significant for diarrhoea too (OR = 0.11 [CI: 0.01 - 0.93], p = 0.017). As in table 3, a difference favouring the control group was seen for bronchitis, but confidence intervals touched an OR of 1 (Table 4).

Table 3 Odds and OR for being ill
Table 4 Odds and OR for being absent

Effect on the total number of days absent or ill

Nonparametric analysis of co-variance revealed a significant difference in days ill between groups (MANCOVA, p = 0.01). Significantly fewer days with symptoms of colds, fever and cough were reported by the intervention group. The strongest effect was identified for colds (p = 0.008). Detailed Χ2-test statistics, degrees of freedom and p-values are presented in Table 5.

Table 5 Percentage of days ill and Test statistics for MANCOVA

For colds, fever and cough a follow-up analysis of days absent was performed. While there was a trend in favour of the intervention group, the difference did not become statistically significant (Table 6).

Table 6 Percentage and Test statistics for MANCOVA of days absent


This study is one of the first investigations on the effectiveness of hand disinfection with alcoholic rubs in a public administration as an example of an open, non-clinical setting with working adults. Our results confirm the findings from other authors, that hand disinfection has preventive effects against acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections [5359]. Data were analysed under the aspects of the effect on the number of single episodes of illness or absence per year and the effect on the total number of days absent or ill.

It could be shown, that hand disinfection has a reducing influence on the number of episodes of illness for the majority of the registered symptoms, with the strongest effects for common cold, coughing, fever and diarrhoea. On average, participants of the intervention group who used alcoholic hand disinfection at their workplace declared less illness episodes and therefore more symptom-free months during the year in comparison with the control group. This confirms data from other authors that the use of hand disinfection leads to interruptions of transmission chains which results in fewer illness episodes [55, 5963].

The analysis of the total number of days ill for most symptoms over the year proved similar reducing effects for hand disinfection. As expected, the highest infection rates for respiratory symptoms were measured during the winter months [64, 65]. For that reason we observed the highest reduction effects in the intervention group also during winter. In contrast, we saw no seasonal peaks in the incidence of diarrhoea and so effects of hand sanitizer use were quite similar every month. Overall, a decline of days ill could was seen for most symptoms compared to the control group.

In both analyses (days/episodes) the impact on absenteeism was lower than the effect on the total of days ill. This confirms that not every case of illness with banal diseases does necessarily lead to a sick note. Rather in spite of taking illness absenteeism, employees continue working if possible, but work performance is restricted and many times insufficient. This results in an often underestimated on-the-job productivity loss.

For office work, on-the-job productivity loss is especially difficult to assess, due to the high complexity of work and the tasks performed.

In most studies on the topic, assessments of the impact on health-related productivity loss base on questionnaires on subjective items like alertness, psychomotor functioning or reaction [66]. Taken together, these studies imply the importance of impaired productivity for understanding the indirect costs associated with these illnesses. However, it is difficult to calculate explicit illness cost with these data. Nevertheless the amount of sick notes or the number of days off work may not be taken as a sole factor for the measurement of indirect illness costs. Additionally, other aspects which are not that evident and often hardly measurable like the on-the-job productivity loss have to be strongly considered. Our results confirm that there is no fixed correlation between days ill and days absent or between missed work time and on-the-job productivity loss, respectively. Hand disinfectant use reduces primarily the number of illness days which leads to less on-the-job productivity loss and consequently to a decrease in indirect illness costs. While one would expect that hand disinfection should reduce the number of days of work likewise the days ill, our trial lacked the power to show this effect.

Our study has several limitations. Only 16% of invited persons could be included in the study. Due to this, possible effects of hand hygiene are potentially underestimated. Effects of symptoms that are relatively rare but often associated with a chronic disposition or take a longer time to heal like sinusitis or bronchitis are hard to interpret on the other hand, because a single episode can have an ordinate effect. Assessment of days ill or absent as well as single episodes was based on monthly surveys. While this approach has been used by various authors [59, 61, 63], a more refined assessment could have revealed smaller differences. Moreover, with a more detailed questionnaire, perceiving not only the symptom but the markedness of the symptom, possible effects on productivity loss could be more precisely estimated.

Further research should be focussed on the question how on-the-job productivity losses could be assessed more clearly, allowing exact calculations on the cost-effectiveness of hand hygiene programmes and on the relationship between the frequency of hand hygiene and symptoms. Still, our data supports the results from other studies, that hands play a key role in the transfer of community-acquired viral and bacterial infection.


We were able to demonstrate that hand disinfection can easily be introduced and maintained outside clinical settings as a part of the daily hand hygiene [46, 47]. Therefore it appears as an interesting, and probably cost-efficient method within the scope of company health support programmes.


  1. 1.

    Bertera R: The effects of workplace health promotion on absenteeism and employment costs in a large industrial population. American Journal of Public Health. 1990, 80 (9): 1101-1105. 10.2105/AJPH.80.9.1101.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Keech M, Scott AJ, Ryan PJ: The impact of influenza and influenza-like illness on productivity and healthcare resource utilization in a working population. Occup-Med-(Lond). 1998, 48 (2): 85-90. 10.1093/occmed/48.2.85.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Nichol KL, D'Heilly S, Ehlinger E: Burden of upper respiratory illnesses among college and university students: 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 cohorts. Vaccine. 2006, 24 (44-46): 6724-6725. 10.1016/j.vaccine.2006.05.033.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Nichol KL, Mallon KP, Mendelmann PM: Cost benefit of influenza vaccination in healthy, working adults: an economic analysis based on the results of a clinical trial of trivalent live attenuated influenza virus vaccine. Vaccine. 2003, 21 (17-18): 2217-2207. 10.1016/S0264-410X(03)00029-X.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Smith A, Brice C, Leach A, Tiley M, Williamson S: Effects of upper respiratory tract illnesses in a working population. Ergonomics. 2004, 47 (4): 363-369. 10.1080/0014013032000157887.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Bloomfield S, Aiello A, Cookson B, O'Boyle C, Larson E: The effectiveness of hand hygiene procedures in reducing the risks of infections in home and community settings including handwashing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers. AJIC. 2007, 35 (10 Supplement I): S27-S64.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Bramley TJ, Lerner D, Sarnes M: Productivity losses related to the common cold. j Occup Environ Med. 2002, 44: 822-829. 10.1097/00043764-200209000-00004.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Smith A, Thomas M, Whitney H: Effects of upper respiratory tract illnesses on mood and performance over the working day. Ergonomics. 2000, 43 (6): 752-763. 10.1080/001401300404724.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Smith AP: Respiratory Virus Infections and Performance. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences. 1990, 327 (1241): 519-528. 10.1098/rstb.1990.0095.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Smith AP: A Review of the Effects of Colds and Influenza on Human Performance. Occupational Medicine. 1989, 39 (2): 65-68. 10.1093/occmed/39.2.65. 1989; 39: 65-68

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Smith AP, Thomas M, Brockman P: Noise, respiratory virus infections and performance. In the proceedings of the 6th International Congeress on Noise as a Public Health Problem. Actes Inrets. 1993, 34 (2): 311-314.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Smith AP, Tyrrell DA, Al-Nakib W, Barrow PG, Higgins PG, Leekam S, Trickett S: Effects and after-effects of the common cold and influenza on human performance. Neuropsychobiology. 1989, 21 (2): 90-93. 10.1159/000118558.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Smith AP, Tyrrell DA, Al-Nakib W, Coyle KB, Donovan CB, Higgins PG, Willman JS: Effects of experimentally induced respiratory virus infections and illness on psychomotor performance. Neuropsychobiology. 1987, 18 (3): 144-148. 10.1159/000118408.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Smith AP, Tyrrell DA, Al-Nakib W, Coyle KB, Donovan CB, Higgins PG, Willman JS: The effects of experimentally induced respiratory virus infections on performance. Psychol Med. 1988, 18 (1): 65-71. 10.1017/S0033291700001896.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Smith AP, Tyrrell DA, Coyle KB, Williams LA: Selective effects of mior illnesses on human performace. British Journal of Psychology. 1987, 78: 183-188.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Aiello AE, Coulborn RM, Perez V, Larson EL: Effect of hand hygiene on infectious disease risk in the community setting: a meta-analysis. Am J Public Health. 2008, 98 (8): 1372-1381. 10.2105/AJPH.2007.124610.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Hilburn J, Hammond BS, Fendler EJ, Groziak PA: Use of alcohol hand sanitizer as an infection control strategy in an acute care facility. Am J Infect Control. 2003, 31 (2): 109-116. 10.1067/mic.2003.15.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Johnson PD, Martin R, Burrell LJ, Grabsch EA, Kirsa SW, O'Keeffe J, Mayall BC, Edmonds D, Barr W, Bolger C, et al: Efficacy of an alcohol/chlorhexidine hand hygiene program in a hospital with high rates of nosocomial methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. Med J Aust. 2005, 183 (10): 509-514.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Pittet D, Hugonnet S, Harbarth S, Mourouga P, Sauvan V, Touveneau S, Perneger TV: Effectiveness of a hospital-wide programme to improve compliance with hand hygiene. Infection Control Programme. Lancet. 2000, 356 (9238): 1307-1312. 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)02814-2.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Larson EL, Early E, Cloonan P, Sugrue S, Parides M: An organizational climate intervention associated with increased handwashing and decreased nosocomial infections. Behav Med. 2000, 26 (1): 14-22. 10.1080/08964280009595749.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Harrington G, Watson K, Bailey M, Land G, Borrell S, Houston L, Kehoe R, Bass P, Cockroft E, Marshall C, et al: Reduction in hospitalwide incidence of infection or colonization with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with use of antimicrobial hand-hygiene gel and statistical process control charts. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2007, 28 (7): 837-844. 10.1086/518844.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Kampf G, Kramer A: Epidemiologic background of hand hygiene and evaluation of the most important agents for scrubs and rubs. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2004, 17 (4): 863-893. 10.1128/CMR.17.4.863-893.2004. table of contents

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Best M, Neuhauser D: Ignaz Semmelweis and the birth of infection control. Qual Saf Health Care. 2004, 13 (3): 233-234. 10.1136/qshc.2004.010918.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Neuhauser D: Florence Nightingale gets no respect: as a statistician that is. Qual Saf Health Care. 2003, 12 (4): 317-10.1136/qhc.12.4.317.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Ladegaard MB, Stage V: [Hand-hygiene and sickness among small children attending day care centers. An intervention study]. Ugeskr Laeger. 1999, 161 (31): 4396-4400.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Monsma M, Day R, St Arnaud S: Handwashing makes a difference. J Sch Health. 1992, 62 (3): 109-111. 10.1111/j.1746-1561.1992.tb06031.x.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Roberts L, Smith W, Jorm L, Patel M, Douglas RM, McGilchrist C: Effect of infection control measures on the frequency of upper respiratory infection in child care: a randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2000, 105 (4 Pt 1): 738-742. 10.1542/peds.105.4.738.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Ryan M, Christian R, Wohlrabe J: Handwashing and respiratory ilness among young adults in military training. Am-J-Prev-Med. 2001, 21 (2): 79-83. 10.1016/S0749-3797(01)00323-3.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Erkältungskrankheit - Ein Lehrbuch für die Praxis. 1996, Stuttgart: Tyrell D.A.J.

  30. 30.

    Abad FX, Pinto RM, Bosch A: Survival of enteric viruses on environmental fomites. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1994, 60 (10): 3704-3710.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Ansari SA, Sattar SA, Springthorpe VS, Wells GA, Tostowaryk W: Rotavirus survival on human hands and transfer of infectious virus to animate and nonporous inanimate surfaces. J Clin Microbiol. 1988, 26 (8): 1513-1518.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Ansari SA, Springthorpe VS, Sattar SA, Rivard S, Rahman M: Potential role of hands in the spread of respiratory viral infections: studies with human parainfluenza virus 3 and rhinovirus 14. J Clin Microbiol. 1991, 29 (10): 2115-2119.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Brouwer DH, Kroese R, Van Hemmen JJ: Transfer of contaminants from surface to hands: experimental assessment of linearity of the exposure process, adherence to the skin, and area exposed during fixed pressure and repeated contact with surfaces contaminated with a powder. Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 1999, 14 (4): 231-239. 10.1080/104732299303007.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Dick EC, Hossain SU, Mink KA, Meschievitz CK, Schultz SB, Raynor WJ, Inhorn SL: Interruption of transmission of rhinovirus colds among human volunteers using virucidal paper handkerchiefs. J Infect Dis. 1986, 153 (2): 352-356.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    El-Dars FM, Hassan WM: A preliminary bacterial study of Egyptian paper money. Int J Environ Health Res. 2005, 15 (3): 235-239. 10.1080/09603120500105976.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Gwaltney JM, Hendley JO: Transmission of experimental rhinovirus infection by contaminated surfaces. Am J Epidemiol. 1982, 116 (5): 828-833.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Gwaltney JM, Moskalski PB, Hendley JO: Interruption of experimental rhinovirus transmission. J Infect Dis. 1980, 142 (6): 811-815.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Khin Nwe O, Phyu Phyu W, Aung Myo H, Aye T: Contamination of currency notes with enteric bacterial pathogens. J Diarrhoeal Dis Res. 1989, 7 (3-4): 92-94.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Reed SE: An investigation of the possible transmission of Rhinovirus colds through indirect contact. J Hyg (Lond). 1975, 75 (2): 249-258. 10.1017/S0022172400047288.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Kramer A, Schwebke I, Kampf G: How long do nosocomial pathogens persist on inanimate surfaces? A systematic review. BMC Infect Dis. 2006, 6: 130-10.1186/1471-2334-6-130.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Desinfektionsmittelliste des Verbunds für Angewandte Hygiene (VAH). 2006, mhp-Verlag, Stand

  42. 42.

    Anonymous: Hygienische Händedesinfektion: Indikationen, Wirkungsspektrum, Einreibemethode und Verträglichkeit: Informationsbroschüre. 2004, Hamburg: Bode Chemie

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Kramer A, Bernig T, Kampf G: Clinical double-blind trial on the dermal tolerance and user acceptability of six alcohol-based hand disinfectants for hygienic hand disinfection. J Hosp Infect. 2002, 51 (2): 114-120. 10.1053/jhin.2002.1223.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    DIN EN 1500: Chemische Desinfektionsmittel und Antiseptika, Hygienische Händedesinfektion, Prüfverfahren und Anforderungen (Phase 2/Stufe 2). 1997, Brüssel: CEN, European Comittee for Standardization, 1-20.

    Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    DIN EN 12791: Chemische Desinfektionsmittel und Antiseptika, Chirugische Händedesinfektionsmittel - Prüfverfahren und Anforderungen (Phase 2/Stufe 2). 2005, Brüssel: CEN, European Comittee for Standardization, 1-31.

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Hübner C, Hübner N, Kramer A: Händehygiene in der Community. 9 Internationaler Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Krankenhaushygiene eV. Edited by: DGKH. 2008, Berlin: Hyg Med

    Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Hübner C: Einfluss der Händehygiene in Verwaltungen auf das Infektionsgeschehen: Wirksamkeitsanalyse der alkoholischen Händedesinfektion auf Erkrankungsrate und Arbeitsleistung am Beispiel von Erkältungs- und Durchfallerkrankungen. 2009, Saarbrücken: Südwestdeutscher Verlag für Hochschulschriften

    Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Hübner C, Hübner NO, kramer A: Compliance bei der Handhygiene in einem öffentlichen Verwaltung vor, während und nach einer 12 - monatigen Intervention. GMS. 2009, in review,

    Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Puri M, PK S: A class rank order test for a general linear hypothesis. Annals of Mathematical Statistic. 1969, 40: 1325-1343. 10.1214/aoms/1177697505.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Puri M, PK S: Nonparametric methods in general linear models. 1985, New York: Wiley

    Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Pavur R, Nath R: Power and Type I Error Rates for Rank-Score MANOVA Techniques. Multivariate Behavioral Research. 1989, 24 (4): 477-501. 10.1207/s15327906mbr2404_6.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Thomas JR, Nelson JK, Thomas KT: A generalized rank-order method for nonparametric analysis of data from exercise science: A tutorial. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 1999, 70 (1): 11-23.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Dyer DL, Shinder A, Shinder F: Alcohol-free instant hand sanitizer reduces elementary school illness absenteeism. Fam Med. 2000, 32 (9): 633-638.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Guinan M, McGuckin M, Ali Y: The effect of a comprehensive handwashing program on absenteeism in elementary schools. Am J Infect Control. 2002, 30 (4): 217-220. 10.1067/mic.2002.120366.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Sandora TJ, Taveras E, Shih M, Resnick E, Lee GM, Ross-Degnan D, Goldmann DA: A randomized, controlles trial of a multifaceted intervention including alcohol-based hand sanitizer and hand-hygiene education to reduce illness transmission in the home. pediatrics. 2005, 116 (9): 587-594. 10.1542/peds.2005-0199.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Van Camp RO, Ortega HJ: Hand sanitizer and rates of acute illness in military aviation personnel. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2007, 78 (2): 140-142.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Vessey JA, Sherwood JJ, Warner D, Clark D: Comparing hand washing to hand sanitizers in reducing elementary school students' absenteeism. Pediatr Nurs. 2007, 33 (4): 368-372.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    White C, Kolble R, Carlson R, Lipson N: The impact of a health compain on hand hygiene and upper respiratory illness among college students living in residence halls. Journal of American College Health. 2005, 43 (5): 175-181. 10.3200/JACH.53.4.175-181.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    White C, Kolble R, Carlson R, Lipson N, Dolan M, Ali Y, Cline M: The effect of hand hygiene on illness rate among students in university residence hall. Am-J-Infect-Control. 2003, 31 (6): 364-370. 10.1016/S0196-6553(03)00041-5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Hammond B, Ali Y, Fendler E, Dolan M, Donovan S: Effect of hand sanitizer use on elementary school absenteeism. Am J Infect Control. 2000, 28 (5): 340-346. 10.1067/mic.2000.107276.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Lee GM, Salomon JA, Friedman JF, Hibberd PL, Ross-Degnan D, Zasloff E, Bediako S, Goldmann DA: Illness transmission in the home: a possible role for alcohol-based hand gels. Pediatrics. 2005, 115 (4): 852-860. 10.1542/peds.2004-0856.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Thompson K: The Effect of Alcohol Hand Sanitizer on Elementary School Absence. 2004

    Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    White CG, Shinder FS, Shinder AL, Dyer DL: Reduction of illness absenteeism in elementary schools using an alcohol-free instant hand sanitizer. J Sch Nurs. 2001, 17 (5): 258-265. 10.1177/10598405010170050501.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Seifart C: Banale Atemwegsinfektionen symptomatisch behandeln. Pharmazeutische Zeitung. 2007, 152 (42): 16-26.

    Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Tyrell DAJ: Erkältungskrankheit - Ein Lehrbuch für die Praxis. 1996, Stuttgart: Fischer

    Google Scholar 

  66. 66.

    Kumar RN, Hass SL, Li JZ, Nickens DJ, Daenzer CL, Wathen LK: Validation of the Health-Related Productivity Questionnaire Diary (HRPQ-D) on a sample of patients with infectious mononucleosis: results from a phase 1 multicenter clinical trial. J Occup Environ Med. 2003, 45 (8): 899-907. 10.1097/01.jom.0000083039.56116.79.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Pre-publication history

  1. The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here:

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nils-Olaf Hübner.

Additional information

Competing interests

The authors declare a financial competing interest: GK is employed by Bode Chemie GmbH, Hamburg, Germany. NOH and AK received financial support for research from Bode Chemie in the past. All other authors declare no conflict of interest.

Authors' contributions

NOH had the idea for the study and planned and supervised the trial, analyzed and interpreted the data and drafted the manuscript. CH participated in the design of the study, conducted the trial, helped to analyze and interpret the data and to draft the manuscript. MW helped to analyze and interpret the data and to draft the manuscript. GK helped to draft and revise the manuscript. AK participated in the study design and coordination, and helped to interpret the data and to draft the manuscript.

All authors have been involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content and have read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ original submitted files for images

Below are the links to the authors’ original submitted files for images.

Authors’ original file for figure 1

Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hübner, NO., Hübner, C., Wodny, M. et al. Effectiveness of alcohol-based hand disinfectants in a public administration: Impact on health and work performance related to acute respiratory symptoms and diarrhoea. BMC Infect Dis 10, 250 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Productivity Loss
  • Hand Hygiene
  • Common Cold
  • Illness Episode
  • Customer Contact