Concerns about last year's H1N1 influenza virus have had an impact on Americans' handwashing habits, according to a national survey conducted by Bradley Corporation of Menomonee Falls, a manufacturer of bathroom and locker room furnishings, including sinks, faucets, hand dryers, showers and lockers.
In Bradley's second Healthy Hand Washing Survey, 50 percent of the 1,053 respondents said they "wash their hands more thoroughly or longer or more frequently" in public restrooms as a result of the H1N1 virus that's up from 45 percent in 2009 when the same question was asked.
"It's certainly a move in the right direction," says medical microbiologist Michael McCann, PhD, a professor of biology at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. "It's always a positive sign when we hear that more people are doing a better job washing their hands because handwashing is one of the easiest things to do to keep well."
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, adults average two to four colds a year and children have about six to 10. In fact, the common cold is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work.
"Since handwashing is the first defense in fighting off cold and flu germs, it's important to educate the public," says Jon Dommisse, director of marketing and product development at Bradley Corporation. "We hope our Healthy Hand Washing Survey calls attention to this important practice and the benefits of hand washing."
Bradley's Healthy Hand Washing Survey was conducted online July 7-15, 2010, and queried 1,053 American adults about their hand washing habits in public restrooms. Participants were from around the country, ranged in age from 18 to 65 and older and were fairly evenly split between men (46 percent) and women (54 percent).