Conducting research in areas with diverse cultures requires attention to community sensitization and involvement. The process of community engagement is described for a large community-based, cluster-randomized, controlled trial comparing daily 4% chlorhexidine umbilical cord wash to dry cord care for neonatal mortality prevention in Southern Province, Zambia. Study preparations required baseline formative ethnographic research, substantial community sensitization, and engagement with three levels of stakeholders, each necessitating different strategies. Cluster-specific birth notification systems developed with traditional leadership and community members using community-selected data collectors resulted in a post-natal home visit within 48 hours of birth in 96% of births. Of 39,679 pregnant women enrolled (93% of the target of 42,570), only 3.7% were lost to follow-up or withdrew antenatally; 0.2% live-born neonates were lost by day 28 of follow-up. Conducting this trial in close collaboration with traditional, administrative, political, and community stakeholders facilitated excellent study participation, despite structural and sociocultural challenges.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01241318.
© The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.