Dirt and diarrhoea: formative research in hygiene promotion programmes

Health Policy Plan. 1997 Jun;12(2):122-31. doi: 10.1093/heapol/12.2.122.

Abstract

Investment in the promotion of better hygiene for the prevention of diarrhoeal diseases and as a component of water and sanitation programmes is increasing. Before designing programmes capable of sustainably modifying hygiene behaviour in large populations, valid answers to a number of basic questions concerning the site and the intended beneficiaries have to be obtained. Such questions include 'what practices favour the transmission of enteric pathogens?', 'what advantages will be perceived by those who adopt safe practices?' and 'what channels of communication are currently employed by the target population?' A study of hygiene and diarrhoea in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, used a mixture of methods to address such questions. This paper draws on that experience to propose a plan of preliminary research using a variety of techniques which could be implemented over a period of a few months by planners of hygiene promotion programmes. The techniques discussed include structured observation, focus group discussions and behavioural trials. Modest investment in such systematic formative research with clear and limited goals is likely to be repaid many times over in the increased effectiveness of hygiene promotion programmes.

PIP: Before designing programs to sustain hygiene behavior modification in large populations, some basic questions must be answered regarding the site and the intended beneficiaries. For example, planners need to know which practices foster the transmission of enteric pathogens, which advantages will be perceived by those who adopt safe practices, and which channels of communication are currently used by the target population. A study of hygiene and diarrhea in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, used a mix of methods to explore such questions. The authors refer to that experience in proposing a plan of preliminary research using a variety of techniques which could be implemented over a period of a few months by planners of hygiene promotion programs. The techniques discussed include structured observation, focus group discussions, and behavioral trials. Modest investment in such systematic formative research should pay off through the increased effectiveness of hygiene promotion programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burkina Faso
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Defecation
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Hygiene / standards*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Risk Factors