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Improving hand hygiene in hospitals: comparing the effect of a nudge and a boost on protocol compliance

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Document pages: 23 pages

Abstract: Nudging has become a well-known policy practice. Recently, ‘boosting’ has been suggested as an alternative to nudging. In contrast to nudges, boosts aim to empower individuals to exert their own agency to make decisions. This article is one of the first to compare a nudging and a boosting intervention, and it does so in a critical field setting: hand hygiene compliance of hospital nurses. During a 4-week quasi-experiment, we tested the effect of a reframing nudge and a risk literacy boost on hand hygiene compliance in three hospital wards. The results show that nudging and boosting were both effective interventions to improve hand hygiene compliance. A tentative finding is that, while the nudge had a stronger immediate effect, the boost effect remained stable for a week, even after the removal of the intervention. We conclude that, besides nudging, researchers and policymakers may consider boosting when they seek to implement or test behavioral interventions in domains such as healthcare.

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