Handshake habit amongst medical practitioners, need to abandon and embrace an alternative: analytical study in view of COVID-19 pandemic

Abhinav Jain, Aqsa Shaikh, Kriti Malhotra


Background: Doctors are often ignorant of safeguarding their own health. The present COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated maintenance of social distancing. Handshake is one of the forms of greeting and physical contact to show empathy to patient, however it carries risk of transfer of microbes. The need of the hour is to find a suitable alternative to handshake. Aims was to study the knowledge, attitude and practice of medical doctors in an Indian tertiary care hospital towards hand shake.

Methods: Study targeted 500 medical practitioners in a tertiary care hospital by presenting them with a google based questionnaire form. The questions were based on the practice of handshake amongst medical practitioners and the preferred alternatives. Statistical analysis used: Descriptive and analytic statistics.

Results: Despite 100% respondents being aware about guidelines to avoid non-essential physical contact, 37.3% respondents shook hands. Out of the 85 respondents who had a handshake only 57.6% (n=49) washed hands after handshake. Namaste or Aadab followed by wave gesture are the most acceptable alternatives to handshake for medical practitioners.

Conclusions: According to the study a large number of medical practitioners find it difficult to completely quit handshakes, mostly because of habit even in this pandemic emergency. Namaste or Aadab or hand waving are the best alternatives to handshake. A long term change of habit to a universally acceptable “wave” gesture needs to be developed to prevent possible community transmission of infectious diseases.


Handshake, COVID-19 pandemic, Social distancing, Microbe transfer

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