14 September 2021

Wash your hands, you filthy animals

The Back Page

You grubby, grubby people.

Not you, dear reader – no one has to tell health professionals to wash their hands – we mean the masses, the great literal unwashed whom not even a deadly infectious disease pandemic can convince to pick up the Palmolive.

Almost a year ago, The Back Page reported on Global Handwashing Day that Australians were still horribly lax about washing their hands in everyday situations: according to research on behalf of the Food Safety Information Council, “a staggering 20% of men and 15% of women report they still don’t always wash their hands after going to the dunny and more than 40% don’t always wash their hands before touching food”.

Now research has emerged from WA’s Curtin University showing that despite the wall-to-wall saturation messaging about effective handwashing in the first six months of the pandemic – you know, with soap, for about 20 seconds – people “only occasionally” on average washed their hands properly.

The survey of 232 Australians in the six months to November 2020, published in Psychology and Health, and was really an exercise in applying the theories of planned behaviour and temporal self-regulation. Papers on these theories of health behaviour contain phrases like “disproportionate influence of temporally proximal behavioural contingencies” and are above The Back Page’s pay grade.

So we’re left boggling at the headline.

Deep into a pandemic it’s not worth your precious time to reach for the soap?

A teenager even made a handwashing-to-your-favourite-song-poster generator, and this is how you thank him?

And if the people won’t even listen to Gloria Gaynor, do we even deserve to survive?

Send even more sanitiser to felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au.

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