Comparing hand washing to hand sanitizers in reducing elementary school students absenteeism


This paper is aimed at evaluation of the nursing interventions and to examine the research carried out in nursing. The critique paper aims at critically evaluating the strengths and the weakness of the research carried out to compare normal hand washing to hand sanitizers in reducing elementary school students’ absenteeism.

Problem and Purpose

The major problem in this research was the increased absenteeism of children in school due to infections and illness-related absenteeism. The purpose of the research was to compare the effectiveness of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the normal washing of hands in reducing infections and illness related absenteeism in school children. The researchers decide to carry out the research with an aim of reducing absenteeism in schools. The other purpose of the research was to assess the methods used by school children in washing their hands and analyze the effect these methods had on the children. In conclusion, the researchers have clearly identified the problem there is in the elementary schools and they have also clearly identified the purpose of their research.

Literature Review

The researchers noted that intestinal illness, respiratory infections and other communicable diseases were the most common diseases in children. Thee researchers used sources that were quite relevant and the sources used were also not very old, this shows that the research was comprehensive. The researchers argued that student absenteeism had a major effect on the students’ performance and failed to indicate other reasons of poor performance from the students. In the literature review the researchers also looked at the efficacy of hand cleaning but I think they failed to compare the effect of different hand cleansing methods and the role these hand cleansing methods play in spread of diseases. The researchers concentrated a lot on the public in general instead of review the literature with respect to the school children, where they noted that washing hands may decrease the infection rates among hospital patients (Judith et al). The researchers also needed to include how hand washing is taught in schools and the role that the school teachers play in ensuring that the students carry out proper hand washing. The role of the parents in ensuring proper hand washing techniques was also not covered comprehensively in the literature review. The researchers failed to bring out data showing the number of school children who are absent at any time due to infections that are caused by lack of proper hand cleaning methods. There could have been a list of hand cleansing programs that had ever been started in schools and the reasons that led to their failure. The researchers failed to illustrate how different hand cleansing methods are carried out and their effectiveness in preventing infections in children. The flow of information in the literature review was good since the researchers started by looking at how illness due to diseases caused by lack of effective hand cleansing led to students’ absenteeism and thereafter resulting to poor performance of the students, then analyzed the effectiveness of hand cleansing and the efforts that had earlier been made in this area, the researchers then looked at the different hand cleansing techniques and their effectiveness and lastly they looked at the barriers that exist in hand cleansing in schools. In analyzing the barriers that exist in hand cleansing the researchers argued that neither the soap nor the hand sanitizers are effective when not used, so there was need to encourage the students to make use of the available hand cleansing materials.

In conclusion, the researchers have arranged their literature review in a logical manner and it is also relevant. The literature review is quite comprehensive though there are some issues that needed to be included in it.

Theory Base

The researchers used a theoretical frame work in carrying out the research; this was applied in the design of the research work. The researchers divided the research work into two; the first part consisted of a well monitored clinical trial that was aimed at comparing the effectiveness of soap and water to that of hand sanitizers in reducing infections that lead to absenteeism of students. The second part made use of a group technique to assess the schools’ personnel preferences in selecting hand cleansing products. The researchers used the school secretaries to carry out the research, the school secretaries monitored any absenteeism of students and went ahead to find out whether it was as a result of a communicable disease. The other conceptual framework that the researchers used was that one month before the first part of the research could commence a nurse taught the students the correct procedures for hand washing and sanitization. The nurse used a standardized curriculum and videos to carry out the exercise. The researchers also carried out the exercise by dividing the classrooms into two cohorts. In the second part the researchers used school personnel to assess their experiences with soap and water and hand sanitizers as methods of hand cleansing. There were questions used during the research so as to understand how seriously the school personnel considered the exercise of hand cleansing and sanitizing. In conclusion, the researchers used theoretical conceptual framework which was appropriate in this research.


The number of students’ absences is not affected by the technique used to clean the hands. The soaps used in the school for the purpose of hand cleansing are irritating. Most of the students prefer the use of sanitizers to the soaps and water. The amount of time required to clean the hands has an effect on the students’ likelihood of cleansing the hands. Most of the communicable diseases in schools can be prevented by proper washing of the hands. In conclusion the hypothesis laid by the researchers was proved at the end of the research work.




Judith A. Vessey, Jessie J. Sherwood, Dorothy Warner and Diamne Clark,( July-August,           2007) Comparing hand washing to hand sanitizers in reducing elementary school           students’ absenteeism, pediatric nursing, Vol. 33/No.4