Understanding the mechanisms that drive recent mothers and their family members to change their maternal and newborn care behaviours, and what role frontline workers play in these mechanisms, is the aim of a study starting data collection in rural Ethiopia this month. The qualitative study is part of the IDEAS project of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine & University College London.
Findings will be useful for projects wishing to successfully improve the health of mothers and babies in Ethiopia.
‘Many life-saving interventions, such as breastfeeding within an hour of delivery, rely on families adopting and maintaining behaviours. But we have a poor understanding of maternal and newborn behaviour change, and how interactions with frontline health workers influence these.’ – Dr Zelee Hill, IDEAS qualitative behaviour change study lead.
Understanding behaviour change will help scale-up and impact of life-saving interventions
Implementation and scale-up of proven, critical, life-saving interventions outside research settings have had mixed success. Poor outcomes have sometimes been attributed to low levels of uptake of behaviours by families. Unravelling and mapping behaviour change mechanisms, and determining the role of contextual factors such as maternal education level and parity, is essential information for understanding how we can maximise the impact of interventions in Ethiopia, and predicting whether their impacts will be replicated in different settings.
‘Our findings will help projects in Ethiopia - that aim to improve the uptake of life-saving interventions by families - to optimise implementation strategies for the family context.’ - Pauline Scheelbeek, Research Fellow, IDEAS qualitative behaviour change study.
Research questions and collecting data through stories
Data collectors from JaRco Consulting will use novel techniques – such reading using images of behaviours to trigger immediate reactions from participants or telling an unfinished story that the participants have to complete – to collect data from rural Ethiopian women and their families. The study aims to answer the following research questions:
- What are the mechanisms for behaviour change in the family?
- What contextual factors enable or hinder the triggering of these mechanisms?
- What role do interactions with frontline workers, such as the Health Extension Workers or Health Development Army, play in these mechanisms?
Data collection will run between March – April 2015 in Ethiopia after which data collection will begin in Northeast Nigeria.