Using Nudges to Encourage Handwashing with Soap

November 2017

Handwashing with soap is an effective way to prevent diseases and build healthy futures. For handwashing to be effective, it needs to be practised consistently and thoroughly. Even when people have access to soap and water, and know how and why to wash their hands, many still do not properly wash their hands consistently at critical times.

The handwashing behavior change challenge is not only to encourage people to wash their hands with soap, but to do so correctly and at all critical times. Nudges are one example of a behavior change tool that can encourage people to wash their hands.

It is important to note that there is very limited evidence to suggest that nudges alone will lead to healthier behaviors, and there is insufficient evidence to recommend nudges as a single approach to handwashing behavior change.

Overall, the evidence base for nudges is still emerging, and nudges for handwashing have been tested primarily in single contexts or on a limited scale. This document answers some frequently asked questions about nudges, and provides examples of how they have been used in efforts to increase handwashing.

Additional details

PublisherGlobal Handwashing Partnership
ThemesBehaviour change, Design, nudges and cues

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