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Be Well

Bathroom reminder signs lead more men to wash hands

Some men may be more likely to wash their hands after using the bathroom if they see a sign reminding them to do so, according to a study conducted at Michigan State University.

The researchers surveyed 252 college-age men who exited a campus bathroom where they had posted signs that read, “4 out of 5 Males Wash Their Hands,” with pictures of students wearing the university’s logo and a guide to effective hand-washing. When the men exited the bathroom, they were asked to fill out a questionnaire on the message they saw and whether they followed the guide.

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The study found 86 percent of men who saw the message reported washing their hands. That compares with an initial survey before signs were posted that found 75 percent reported washing their hands. Similarly, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 77 percent of men wash their hands when they leave the restroom.

BOTTOM LINE: Some men may be more likely to wash their hands after using the bathroom if they see a sign reminding them to do so.

CAUTIONS: Some men may have washed their hands because they saw another person in the bathroom rather than as a result of the seeing the sign. Also, it’s unclear whether the sign was effective enough to permanently change behavior, or whether it was a one-time practice.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Human Communication Research, January

Vitamin D doesn’t reduce knee pain from arthritis, study finds

Taking daily vitamin D supplements may not be helpful in reducing knee pain in people with osteo-arthritis, according to a study by researchers at Tufts University.

The study involved 146 participants over 45 who either took a pill with 2,000 international units of vitamin D or a placebo every day for two years. Every two to four months, the researchers surveyed the participants about their pain levels. They also used an MRI to look for any changes in the knee structure.

There was no significant difference in the severity of knee pain between those who took vitamin D supplements or a placebo. Both groups lost just as much cartilage in the knee, suggesting that vitamin D was also no more likely to slow the progression of the disease.

BOTTOM LINE: Taking daily vitamin D supplements may not be helpful in healing knee pain in people with osteoarthritis or slowing the progression of the condition.

CAUTIONS: The two-year study period may be too short to find a benefit from taking vitamin D.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan. 9

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