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1.  Hand hygiene instruction decreases illness-related absenteeism in elementary schools: a prospective cohort study 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:52.
Illness-related absences have been shown to lead to negative educational and economic outcomes. Both hand washing and hand sanitizer interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing illness-related absences. However, while the importance of hand hygiene in schools is clear, the role of instruction in use is less obvious. The purpose of this study was to compare absenteeism rates among elementary students given access to hand hygiene facilities versus students given both access and short repetitive instruction in use, particularly during influenza season when illness-related absences are at a peak.
A hand hygiene intervention was implemented from October to May during the 2009/2010 academic year, including peak flu season, in two Chicago Public Elementary Schools among students grades pre-kindergarten to eighth grade (ages 4–14). Classrooms were systematically assigned to an intervention or control group by grade (cluster design). Hand hygiene facilities (sanitizer and soap) were made available to all students. Students in the intervention group also received short repetitive instruction in hand hygiene every 2 months. Only absences as a result of respiratory or gastrointestinal illness were used to establish illness-related absenteeism rates. Percent absent days were calculated and bivariate analyses were performed to compare percent absent days among students given access to hand hygiene facilities versus students given both access and instruction. Prior to the intervention, teachers’ perceptions of students’ hand hygiene were also evaluated. Teacher perceptions were analysed to describe attitudes and beliefs.
Data were collected and analysed for 773 students reporting 1,886 absences during the study period (1.73% of total school days). Both the percent total absent days and percent illness-related absent days were significantly lower in the group receiving short instruction during flu season (P = 0.002, P < 0.001, respectively). This difference peaked during the influenza season (when intervention began) and declined in the following months. Teachers (n = 23) agreed that hand hygiene is not performed properly among students and reported time constraints as a barrier to frequent hand washing.
Adding hand hygiene instruction to existing hand hygiene practices improved attendance at public elementary schools during the flu season. Standardized and brief repetitive instruction in hand hygiene holds potential to significantly reduce absenteeism.
PMCID: PMC3470997  PMID: 22587432
Hand hygiene; Education; Elementary school; Illness
2.  The state of pediatric asthma in Chicago's Humboldt Park: a community-based study in two local elementary schools 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:45.
Pediatric asthma is a serious public health problem in Chicago and has been designated a high priority concern by residents of Chicago's Humboldt Park, a diverse community area with a large number of Puerto Rican, African American, and Mexican American families.
In May 2009, following the principles of community-based participatory research, a cross-sectional asthma screening survey was administered to adult caregivers of children attending two Humboldt Park elementary schools. Data were analyzed to determine the prevalence of diagnosed and probable asthma as well as the degree of asthma control among affected children; associations between asthma outcomes and mutable triggers were evaluated.
Surveys from 494 children were evaluated. Physician-diagnosed asthma was reported for 24.9% of children and probable asthma identified in an additional 16.2% of children. Asthma was poorly or moderately controlled in 60.0% of diagnosed children. Smoking occurred inside 25.0% of households and 75.0% of caregivers reported idling of vehicles in their community. Report of general stress among caregivers, stress due to community crime, and/or an inability to cope with everyday life were significantly and positively associated with poor asthma morbidity and control among affected children.
Despite high prevalence rates and poor asthma morbidity and control in Humboldt Park, the association of these measures with mutable variables is promising. A community-based asthma intervention to address the issues identified in this study is needed to affect positive change.
PMCID: PMC2912879  PMID: 20576150
3.  Development of the Chicago Food Allergy Research Surveys: assessing knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of parents, physicians, and the general public 
Parents of children with food allergy, primary care physicians, and members of the general public play a critical role in the health and well-being of food-allergic children, though little is known about their knowledge and perceptions of food allergy. The purpose of this paper is to detail the development of the Chicago Food Allergy Research Surveys to assess food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs among these three populations.
From 2006–2008, parents of food-allergic children, pediatricians, family physicians, and adult members of the general public were recruited to assist in survey development. Preliminary analysis included literature review, creation of initial content domains, expert panel review, and focus groups. Survey validation included creation of initial survey items, expert panel ratings, cognitive interviews, reliability testing, item reduction, and final validation. National administration of the surveys is ongoing.
Nine experts were assembled to oversee survey development. Six focus groups were held: 2/survey population, 4–9 participants/group; transcripts were reviewed via constant comparative methods to identify emerging themes and inform item creation. At least 220 participants per population were recruited to assess the relevance, reliability, and utility of each survey item as follows: cognitive interviews, 10 participants; reliability testing ≥ 10; item reduction ≥ 50; and final validation, 150 respondents.
The Chicago Food Allergy Research surveys offer validated tools to assess food allergy knowledge and perceptions among three distinct populations: a 42 item parent tool, a 50 item physician tool, and a 35 item general public tool. No such tools were previously available.
PMCID: PMC2736935  PMID: 19664230

Results 1-3 (3)