Washing conducted by Green and Slemen 2005

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washing conducted by Green and Slemen (2005). Literature on the subject, as they show, brings down a lot about the importance of washing hands before food preparation. Epidemiological research indicates that a lot of diseases break out in restaurants where inadequate hand-washing has been performed, and that many people acquire disease from eating meals outside the home. Over and again, reviews present information about the importance of washing hands before preparing food, but as the authors demonstrate, minimal to none investigation has actually been conducted on current practices of hand-washing. It would be informative, therefore, to investigate current practices and factors affecting these practices in order to see how, and in which ways, we can improve hand-washing practices.

The literature review on the subject was general and skimpy. Merely an abstract outline was presented, but the methodology - which was the brunt of this article -- made up for deficiencies in the review.

Working on behalf of the Environmental He-lath Specialists network (EHS-net) -- an authoritative body concerned with improving health for the environment, the authors used 11 focus groups to collect the data. They deliberately chose the focus groups since they considered this medium to provide descriptive and rich data that could be difficult to obtain from other sources. It seems to me, however, that observation may have been just as informative, if not more, particularly observation where permission would have been unsolicited and where observers would have been inconspicuous in their role. Observation, too, may have better served the objective of their project which was to gain accurate information of the current practices of hand washing. Nonetheless, the authors chose a focus group believing this to be their most profitable approach.

The 11 focus groups were conducted with food service workers and managers from restaurants in eight states where EHS-net was active. Five groups were conducted with English-speaking workers, four groups were conducted with English-speaking managers, and two groups were conducted in Spanish with workers whose primary language was Spanish. The mix of participants is a clever step since the authors had to ascertain that not only were they clearly understood but that they could also understand the participants. More so, they had to have a diversity of voices and a good mix. Furthermore, as regards focus groups it is important that the discussion be free-flowing and that workers be encouraged to open up and be honest in their views. This mix of languages and varied targeted audience with each sample was helpful.

I did, however wonder why languages were confined to English and Spanish when other restaurants, such as Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean, also prominent in the U.S.A. An objective and accurate profile of current hand washing standards in restaurants may have been more profitable from involving a greater mix of languages and samples that are more indicative of the actual population.

More so, it would have been interesting to know whether researchers represented the type of people in the focus groups whom they addressed. It is important that both interviewee bias and interviewer bias are excluded form the study. Frequently, interviewee bias can best be excluded if the characteristics (gender, race, ethnicity and sod forth) match those of the interviewer. In this way, interviewee feels more comfortable with interviewer and is more apt to be open and transparent when responding. This, one may argue, is particularly so in a focus group climate. Similarly, for interviews to…[continue]

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