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Epidemiol Health. 2015;37(1):e2015039. English. Original Article.
Lee MS , Hong SJ , Kim YT .
Department of Preventive Medicine, Konyang University College of Medicine, Daejeon, Korea.
Division of Infectious Disease Control, Center for Infectious Disease Control, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cheongju, Korea.

OBJECTIVES: Handwashing is the most fundamental way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Correct handwashing can prevent 50 to 70% of water-infections and foodborne-infections. We report the results of a fact-finding study on general handwashing attitude and practice in the Republic of Korea by analyzing habits and awareness among adults and students (grades 4 to 12) based on the 2006 to 2014 National Handwashing Surveys and observational surveys. METHODS: The awareness survey was performed by telephone interviews with adults and students in 16 municipalities and provinces sampled by quota for region, sex and age. The observational survey was performed in subway, railway, and other public restrooms in seven municipalities selected through systematic sampling. RESULTS: Adults and students washed their hands with soap/sanitizer an average of 6.6 and 5.2 times daily, respectively, in 2014, an increase and decrease compared to 2006 (4.8) and 2013 (6.8). Their average daily handwashing frequency in 2014, 9.8 and 8.3, was higher than in 2006 (7.6), but lower than in 2013 (10.3).The percentage of participants handwashing with soap after using the restroom (29.5%) has been increasing since 2009, but remain slower than in other countries (42% to 49%). The percentages of participants handwashing with water in 2014, 2013, and 2011 were 57.5%, 72.6%, and 71.4%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Handwashing with soap is an important national public health issue, and national projects promoting it should be given high priority. Research support is necessary to provide scientific evidence of the importance of handwashing with soap and to develop and implement evidence-based policies.

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