Healthcare professionals’ experiences of being observed regarding hygiene routines: the Hawthorne effect in vascular surgery

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Background: The Hawthorne Effect is the change in behaviour by subjects due to their awareness of being observed and is evident in both research and clinical settings as a result of various forms of observation. When the Hawthorne effect exists, it is short-lived, and likely leads to increased productivity, compliance, or adherence to standard protocols. This study is a qualitative component of an ongoing multicentre study, examining the role of Incisional Negative Pressure Wound Therapy after vascular surgery (INVIPS Trial). Here we examine the factors that influence hygiene and the role of the Hawthorne effect on the adherence of healthcare professionals to standard hygiene precautions. Methods: This is a qualitative interview study, investigating how healthcare professionals perceive the observation regarding hygiene routines and their compliance with them. Seven semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted, each interview included a different staff category and one individual interview with a nurse from the Department for Communicable Disease Control. Additionally, a structured questionnaire interview was performed with environmental services staff. The results were analysed based on the inductive qualitative content analysis approach. Results: The analysis revealed four themes and 12 subthemes. Communication and hindering hierarchy were found to be crucial. Healthcare professionals sought more personal and direct feedback. All participants believed that there were routines that should be adhered to but did not know where to find information on them. Staff in the operating theatre were most meticulous in adhering to standard hygiene precautions. The need to give observers a clear mandate and support their work was identified. The staff had different opinions concerning the patient’s awareness of the importance of hygiene following surgery. The INVIPS Trial had mediated the Hawthorne effect. Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that the themes identified, encompassing communication, behaviour, rules and routines, and work environment, influence the adherence of healthcare professionals to standard precautions to a considerable extent of which many factors could be mediated by a Hawthorne effect. It is important that managers within the healthcare system put into place an improved and sustainable hygiene care to reduce the rate of surgical site infections after vascular surgery.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Linköping University
  • Jönköping County Council
  • Sahlgrenska Academy
  • Jönköping University

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Hälso- och sjukvårdsorganisation, hälsopolitik och hälsoekonomi


TidskriftBMC Infectious Diseases
Utgåva nummer1
StatusPublished - 2021 dec 1
Peer review utfördJa