Wearing the Wrong Size Latex Surgical Gloves Impairs Manual Dexterity

Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (Impact Factor: 1.17). 03/2010; 7(3):152-5. DOI: 10.1080/15459620903481660
Source: PubMed


Universal precautions mandate that health care workers wear gloves when dealing with patients, often in situations requiring a high level of technical skill. Although it seems obvious that wearing the wrong size gloves could impair or prolong tasks involving manual dexterity, the issue has not been formally studied. We tested the hypothesis that wearing the wrong size gloves impairs manual dexterity. We administered a grooved pegboard test to 20 healthy, paid, volunteer health care workers. The subjects performed the test with bare hands and while wearing their preferred size of latex surgical gloves, gloves that were a full size smaller, and gloves that were a full size larger. Each subject did three runs with each size glove and three runs with bare hands. The time necessary to insert pegs was measured with a stopwatch. Peg insertion time was not affected by wearing preferred size gloves (vs. bare-handed) but was increased 7-10% by gloves that were either too small or too large (both effects: P < 0.05 vs. preferred size; both P < 0.001 vs. bare-handed). The subjects reported that the too-small gloves limited hand motion or hurt their hands, whereas the too-large gloves were clumsy but comfortable. Health care workers should wear gloves that fit properly when doing tasks that require manual dexterity. If the preferred size is unavailable, wearing gloves that are too large seems the best alternative.

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    • "Gloves decreased performance of the O'Connor test (12%) and the Pegboard test (9%) Drabek et al. (2009) Pegboard test Latex gloves with different sizes Manual dexterity was reduced when wearing gloves that were either too small or too large Dianat et al. (2010) Pegboard test and number of errors while performing a simulated screw-driving task Bare hand as well as cotton, nylon and nitrile gloves Nitrile and nylon gloves increased time to complete the pegboard test. Number of errors was increased while wearing nitrile gloves Wells et al. (2010) Pegboard test Bare hand and rubber gloves (Power line maintainers insulating gloves) with 5 different thicknesses Gloves decreased manual dexterity. "
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