This literature review was undertaken to determine the established theory and research that might be utilized to inform the construction of persuasive messages on hand hygiene posters. It discusses the principles of message framing and the use of fear appeals. Current theory suggests that the most effective messages for health promotion behaviours should be framed in terms of gains rather than losses for the individual. However, as clinical hand hygiene is largely for the benefit of others (i.e. patients), messages should also invoke a sense of personal responsibility and appeal to altruistic behaviour. The use of repeated minimal fear appeals have their place. Posters that simply convey training messages are not effective persuaders. © 2004 The Hospital Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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