Design, Intervention Fidelity, and Behavioral Outcomes of a School-Based Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Cluster-Randomized Trial in Laos

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Mar 22;15(4):570. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15040570.


Evidence of the impact of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in schools (WinS) interventions on pupil absence and health is mixed. Few WinS evaluations rigorously report on output and outcome measures that allow for comparisons of effectiveness between interventions to be made, or for an understanding of why programs succeed. The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Health and Education in Laotian Primary Schools (WASH HELPS) study was a randomized controlled trial designed to measure the impact of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Laos WinS project on child health and education. We also measured the sustainability of intervention outputs and outcomes, and analyzed the effectiveness of group hygiene activities on behavior change and habit formation. Here, we present the design and intermediate results from this study. We found the WinS project improved the WASH environment in intervention schools; 87.8% of schools received the intervention per design. School-level adherence to outputs was lower; on average, schools met 61.4% of adherence-related criteria. The WinS project produced positive changes in pupils' school WASH behaviors, specifically increasing toilet use and daily group handwashing. Daily group hygiene activities are effective strategies to improve school WASH behaviors, but a complementary strategy needs to be concurrently promoted for effective and sustained individual handwashing practice at critical times.

Keywords: WASH; behavior change; handwashing; hygiene; intervention fidelity; primary schools; sanitation; toilet use; water.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Hand Disinfection / methods*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Hygiene / standards
  • Laos
  • Male
  • Research Design
  • Sanitation / methods*
  • Schools
  • Water Supply / standards*