Effective handwashing can prevent the spread of germs, including Covid-19. However, young children can lack a fundamental understanding of germ transfer. A Germ’s Journey educational resources were designed to support young children in learning about germs and handwashing. These resources include a book, website, song, online games and glo-gel activities that are informed by a behaviour change model.
Prior research has not evaluated the impacts of these resources on behavioural outcomes.
Purpose of the study
Two intervention studies evaluated the impacts of these resources on both knowledge and behavioural outcomes.
In Study 1, children (n = 225) were recruited from four schools and randomly assigned by classrooms to participate in a multicomponent intervention (vs. control). In Study 2, children (n = 104) were recruited from a museum and randomly assigned to participate in a song intervention (vs. control). Trained observers recorded participants’ engagement in six handwashing behaviours and their understanding of germs. These behavioural and knowledge outcomes were analysed using regression and related analyses.
In Study 1, significant improvements were observed between baseline and follow up in the intervention group for both behavioural scores (Est = 0.48, SE = 0.14, t = 3.30, p = 0.001) and knowledge scores (Est = 2.14, SE = 0.52, z = 4.11, p < 0.001), whereas these improvements were not observed in the control group (ts < 1). In Study 2, the intervention group had significantly higher behavioural scores compared to the control group (Est. = -0.71, SE = 0.34, t = -2.07, p = 0.04).
This research demonstrates that specifically designed hand hygiene educational resources can improve handwashing practice and understanding in young children, and could lead to the reduction of the transmission of disease within this group.
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