Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Infection control: evidence-based common sense

Dancer, Stephanie J.



When compared against classical sciences, infection control is very much the ‘new kid-on-the-block’. This means that activities directed by infection prevention and control are more likely to reflect ‘common sense’ rather than robust evidence. Indeed, hand hygiene, isolation, screening, decontamination and cleaning remain hotly debated, especially the current vogue for bathing patients in antiseptics. So, which of these provide measurable benefit, and which do not? And why is it important? Do we actually need irrefutable evidence for the advice that we dispel on a daily basis? This opinion piece examines the main components of a modern day infection control service and assesses their worth from a mainly UK perspective. The findings suggest that the framework for preventing infection is structurally sound, despite the lack of evidence. Biological sciences, by their very nature, do not easily fit into neat equations; they remain subject to measurement variables, tempered by patient status and microscopic pathogens. Despite this, numerous reports from healthcare facilities all over the world stand testimony to basic hygiene, particularly when confronted by outbreaks. Managers and others who seek to undermine traditional infection control practices should be challenged, particularly when imposing knee-jerk policies for which there is no evidence at all. Given the insidious creep of antimicrobial resistance, infection prevention and control will inevitably assume the status it has hitherto been denied. Common sense, however defined, eventually turns into scientific evidence at some stage but this progression relies upon continued accumulation, evaluation and integration of evidence by professionals and policy makers.


Dancer, S. J. (2016). Infection control: evidence-based common sense. Infection, Disease & Health, 21(4), 147-153.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 31, 2016
Online Publication Date Nov 30, 2016
Publication Date Nov 30, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 5, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 1, 2017
Journal Formerly Healthcare Infection
Print ISSN 2468-0451
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 4
Pages 147-153
Keywords Hygiene, Cleaning, Isolation, Screening, Antimicrobial agents,
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations