BACKGROUND: In the United Kingdom, there are approximately 300,000 healthcare-associated infections (HCAI) annually, costing an estimated £1 billion. Up to 30% of all HCAI are potentially preventable by better application of knowledge and adherence to infection prevention procedures. Implementation of Department of Health guidelines through educational interventions has resulted in significant and sustained improvements in hand hygiene compliance and reductions in HCAI. AIM: To determine the features of structured educational interventions that impact on compliance with hand hygiene in healthcare professionals within a hospital care setting. METHODS: Sixteen electronic databases were searched. Outcomes were assessed using Kirkpatrick's hierarchy and included changes in hand hygiene compliance of healthcare professionals, in service delivery and in the clinical welfare of patients involved. RESULTS: A total of 8845 articles were reviewed, of which 30 articles met the inclusion criteria. Delivery of education was separated into six groups. CONCLUSIONS: It was not possible to identify individual features of educational interventions due to each study reporting multicomponent interventions. However, multiple, continuous interventions were better than single interventions in terms of eliciting and sustaining behaviour change. Data were not available to determine the time, nature and type of booster sessions with feedback needed for a permanent change in compliance.