Hand washing is very effective in preventing diarrhoea

Clinical question: 
How effective is hand washing in preventing diarrhoea in children and adults?
Bottom line: 
Hand washing can reduce diarrhoea episodes by about 30% in institutions in high-income countries and in communities in low-income or middle-income countries. Hand washing is particularly important after defaecation and handling faeces, and before preparing and eating food.
Caveat: 
Trials with longer follow-up (more than 12 months) and that test different methods of promoting hand washing are needed.
Context: 
Diarrhoea is a serious global public health problem, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization estimates that over three million episodes occur each year, with many people dying, especially children aged less than five years in low-income and middle-income countries.
Review CD#: 
CD004265
PEARLS No: 
56
Date: 
April, 2008
Authored by: 
Brian R McAvoy