Date of Award

12-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Science

Advisor

Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Julia L. Sharp, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Felix H. Barron, Ph.D.

Abstract

Student absenteeism is a pervasive problem in the United States, causing a number of educational, economic, and institutional problems. Hand-hygiene interventions have been reported to be a method for reducing illness-associated student absenteeism. As an increasing number of schools offer self-service, including salad bars and bowls of whole fresh fruit, opportunities for the transmission of foodborne pathogens via hands could possibly increase illness-associated student absenteeism. To address this problem, we conducted a two-phase study. First, we conducted a systematic literature review to evaluate peer-reviewed studies (N=24) that reported an association between hand hygiene interventions and illness-associated absenteeism reduction in elementary schools. We concluded that hand-hygiene interventions were associated with reducing illness-related absenteeism reduction in elementary schools. Secondly, we administered a web-based survey to SC school foodservice managers (N=1231) to assess their perceptions and behaviors about hand hygiene in the school foodservice environment. Findings from the 403 eligible responses showed that school foodservice mangers perceived a low level of susceptibility to gastrointestinal diseases, a high level of perceived efficacy to protect self and others from getting gastrointestinal diseases, a high level of agreement with proper food-safety behaviors. Furthermore, there was an insignificant relationship between foodservice manger risk perceptions and food-safety behaviors. Our results will inform the development of a hand-hygiene intervention to be delivered in elementary schools in upstate South Carolina.

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