Evaluating the effectiveness of A Germ’s Journey interactive health-education resources and interventions to improve young children’s understanding of microorganisms and handwashing skills globally

Date

2021-03-23

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Peer reviewed

Abstract

Aims: The A Germ’s Journey health-education intervention was developed to improve young children’s understanding of microorganism transfer and efficient handwashing techniques to tackle infection. Children are particularly vulnerable to the spreading and contracting of infectious disease, with communicable diseases presenting a significant cause of morbidity and mortality among children globally. Despite this, there are few handwashing resources specifically aimed at young children. This poster presents findings from a collection of studies that evaluate whether specifically co-created resources (A Germ’s Journey) aid children’s understanding and practice, and teachers’ pedagogy of effective hand-hygiene in the UK and Low-and Middle-Income Countries.

Methods and results: Educational health-hygiene workshops were conducted with schools in the UK and Sierra Leone and India in areas of considerable socio-economic disadvantage. Mixed-method data was collected from children using quasi-experimental methods, using pre-workshop questions, follow-up questions, observations and baseline and post-workshop assessments. Data was collected from teachers using questionnaires and focus groups.

Conclusions: Results from evaluative studies demonstrate that the use of A Germ’s Journey multi-component educational resources induce significant improvements in children’s knowledge of microorganisms and handwashing skills. For example: among one sample of UK schoolchildren, 20% more washed between their fingers one month after engaging with the learning resources, and 30% more linked handwashing to germs. The effect of the intervention also extends to reducing the cases of diarrhoea and vomiting related illness in India. Additionally teachers (100%) reported on the usefulness of the resources.

Significance of study: A Germ’s Journey resources enhance children’s understanding of handwashing, microorganism transfer and disease development, thereby improving handwashing behaviour in children in both the UK and Low-and-Middle-Income Countries, addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals for health (SDG3) and education (SDG4). The resources are utilised across Africa, Asia and Europe, with 6,450 books being sold or donated globally to schools, museums, community centres and refugee camps, reaching 145,432 people.

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Keywords

health, education, hand-hygiene, handwashing, educational resources, children, health-education

Citation

Crosby, S., Younie, S., and Laird, K. (2021) Evaluating the effectiveness of A Germ’s Journey interactive health-education resources and interventions to improve young children’s understanding of microorganisms and handwashing skills globally. Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) Early Career Scientist Research Symposium Conference [Online], 22 – 26 March 2021.

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Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice