van de Mortel, TF 2001, 'Transmitting times', Occupational Health, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 25-27.
In response to concerns about infection rates at Southern Cross University in New South Wales, a study was undertaken to identify staff knowledge about infection, and to quantify the incidence of infections to develop a strategy to reduce it. Of the 294 staff sent questionnaires, 41 per cent responded. The survey, Infection transmission in the university workplace: incidents and staff knowledge of the modes of transmission, found that 60 per cent of staff suffered an infectious illness over the study period and one-third took an average of three days' sick leave. The average score on questions regarding infection transmission was 48.5 per cent. There was no significant relationship between knowledge and incidence of illness, however a non-significant trend was noted between the frequency of handwashing and illness rates. Given that knowledge of disease transmission was poor and that the incidence of illness was lower in people who washed their hands more frequently, a workplace education strategy on hygiene may reduce the incidence of infectious illness.