The Dettol HABIT Study

Prembabu Sharma

The latest international Dettol HABIT Study (Hygiene:Attitudes, Behaviour, Insight and Traits) revealed that across the globe conscientious and careful personality types experience 10% fewer colds and diarrhoea than others and may be more likely to practise better personal and domestic hygiene habits. In addition the study, which was carried out in 12 countries around the world including India, found that people who have good manners have better personal hygiene and are almost two and a half times more likely to have good health with low levels of colds and diarrhoea.

In India unlike other 12 participating countries gender has no bearing on personal and household hygiene with men and women equally as likely to engage in good hygiene practices. Households with children and elderly people in the family have better hygiene and thus are healthier. It is estimated that the odds of reporting good household hygiene are 1.7 times higher among tidy people.

These results increase awareness of the key factors that influence different hygienebehaviours and highlight the importance of good hygiene (such as effective hand washing and household cleaning) and good manners (such as covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing) in breaking the chain of infection.

Releasing the report; Mr. Chander Mohan Sethi, Regional Director – South Asia, Chairman and Managing Director Reckitt Benckiser (India) Ltd said, “Dettol is considered as the gold standard in germ protection and being a leader in the hygiene and health care, we at Dettol have a moral responsibility of educating public masses on correct hygiene practices. This year the study clearly indicates that social norms are associated with preference for anti-germ soap and education has turned out to be the strongest determinant of healthy soap usage in India; the odds of using anti-germ soap are three times higher among more educated people. The outcome has definitely given us an impetus to continue Dettol’s the journey of spreading awareness about better health and hygiene with renewed vigour and zeal.”

Previous studies have shown that intensive hygiene education plus the regular use of disinfectants can significantly reduce the risk of illness among children. These new findings from the Dettol HABIT study further emphasise how improved hygiene behaviour can effectively stop the spread of germs and protect health.”

Professor John Oxford, Chairman of the Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at Barts and The London School of Dentistry commented, “Understanding what drives hygiene behaviour is very valuable. The study uncovered characteristics and traits which are associated with good hygiene and health outcomes such as conscientiousness and practicing hygiene automatically or routinely. We want people to recognize where they may be falling down and take action to make hygiene a habit. Teach your children good manners and build hygiene into your everyday routine.”

The study also showed that tidy/orderly individuals are more hygienic than messy/chaotic people, women and older people tend to be more hygienic than men and younger people and that homemakers display the highest levels of personal and household hygiene whilst students and office workers display the worst. Levels of personal and household hygiene were highest when hygiene habits were undertaken automatically or as part of everyday routine and for those who are aware of the threat of germs. In addition, people who have heard of anti-germl soap are significantly more likely to have better personal hygiene habits.

Dr. Narendra Saini, Global Hygiene Council India Representative commented “According to the HABIT study 2011 by the Global Hygiene Council it is interesting to learn is that personal hygiene and household hygiene is an indispensable part of our social norms. These behaviour patterns get passed on from one generation to another. These ‘manners’ have a positive association with good health. The odds of reporting good infectious health are three times higher among those with good manners.