Sunday, 16 October 2011

Minding Your Manners May Protect Your Health - Study

Largest global behaviour study to date finds certain personality traits affect health outcomes

TORONTO, October 12, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Good manners will likely lead to better health, according to findings from the largest global study of hygiene behaviour to date.

In an effort to better understand health outcomes, such as colds and the flu, the Hygiene Council today announced results from its Lysol HABIT Study (Hygiene: Attitudes, Behaviour, Insight, and Traits), which explored how certain demographics and personality traits influence hygiene practices. Based on 12,000 survey respondents in 12 countries, the study found that the biggest determinant of reported good health with low levels of colds and diarrhea was good manners. The odds of being healthy were almost two-and-a-half times higher among those who reported embarrassment at sneezing or coughing on others.

"Understanding what drives hygiene behaviour is very valuable," says Professor John Oxford, chairman of the Hygiene Council and professor of virology at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. "We want people to recognize that a change in behaviour may lead to overall better hygiene practices, such as regular hand washing and surface disinfection. These hygiene habits are the first defence against spreading germs and infectious diseases. Furthermore, the study findings can be used to help health organizations and healthcare professionals target hygiene education to certain individuals."

Canadian women clean up versus men

Among Canadians, the Lysol HABIT Study found that women were more hygienic than men. Women were found to be two times more likely than men to wash their hands regularly, and two-and-a-half times more likely to practice good household hygiene.

Additionally, Canadians with neurotic behaviours were more likely to practice better hygiene habits, and reported fewer incidences of contagious diseases and better overall health.

"The new findings from the study further emphasise how improved hygiene behaviour can effectively stop the spread of germs and protect health," says Dr. Donald Low, microbiologist-in-chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. "Although some Canadians tend to the correct practices more easily, practicing good personal and household hygiene is everyone's responsibility and vital in breaking the chain of infection."

Cleanliness helps healthiness

With cold and flu season around the corner, the findings from the Lysol HABIT Study indicate the importance of promoting certain hygiene behaviours to break the chain of infection. Results from the Hygiene Council's 2011 Lysol Bacterial Survival Study show that bacteria can survive on a variety of household surfaces for an extended period of time - for up to two days - if not properly disinfected.

"Regular disinfection of hygiene hotspots is crucial for reducing the spread of bacteria in the home," says Dr. Low.

Food preparation surfaces, such as countertops, and high-traffic zones including door handles, light switches and inside refrigerators, are some germ hotspots in the home. Regular disinfecting of germ hotspots, regardless of visible dirt, will greatly reduce the risk of catching a cold or the flu inside the home. Disinfectants are specifically registered with Health Canada and carry a Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the label.

"We applaud the Hygiene Council in its continued efforts to inform and educate Canadians on how to best protect themselves and their families from the threat of infection," says Erica Di Ruggiero, Chair of the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA). "Practicing good hygiene habits is something we can all do to protect ourselves against cold and flu."

Some more findings from the Lysol HABIT Study

...Among the 12 countries surveyed, Canada had the fourth highest rate of good personal hygiene. Brazil and Germany ranked the highest, and China, Malaysia and South Africa the lowest

...Among the 12 countries surveyed, Canada reported the second highest household hygiene levels. U.K. and Australia tied for the highest rank, and China, Malaysia and Middle East ranked the lowest

...The odds of having good personal and household hygiene increased with age and income

...Hygiene habits vary by profession with homemakers (64.5 per cent) reporting the highest level of personal hygiene and students (44.5 per cent) reporting the worst

...Regular use of antibacterial cleaning products is associated with tidiness, having children, strong household hygiene routines, higher income, education and automatic cleaning

About the Hygiene Council

The Hygiene Council, which was formed in 2006, is an initiative bringing together leading global experts in the field of microbiology, virology, infectious diseases, immunology and public health to formulate realistic and practical recommendations on simple hygiene measures to help the public improve levels of hygiene in the home and community and, in turn, help to prevent the spread of all kinds of infections. In 2011, the Hygiene Council held its annual meeting at the Centers for Disease Control headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The work of the Hygiene Council is funded through an educational grant from Reckitt Benckiser, the makers of Lysol. For further information, please visit the Hygiene Council website at

About Reckitt Benckiser

Reckitt Benckiser is a leading international consumer products company in the health and personal care, condiment and household categories. The company manufactures and markets world-class products, including: LYSOL®, CLEARASIL®, STREPSILS®, VEET®, FRENCH'S® Mustard and many other consumer-preferred brands. Reckitt Benckiser (Canada) Inc. is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario.

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