- The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,
oa Trial of a Novel Intervention to Improve Multiple Food Hygiene Behaviors in Nepal
In this study, we report on the results of a trial of an intervention to improve five food hygiene behaviors among mothers of young children in rural Nepal. This novel intervention targeted five behaviors; cleanliness of serving utensils, handwashing with soap before feeding, proper storage of cooked food, and thorough reheating and water treatment. Based on formative research and a creative process using the Behavior‐Centered Design approach, an innovative intervention package was designed and delivered over a period of 3 months. The intervention activities included local rallies, games, rewards, storytelling, drama, competitions linking with emotional drivers of behavior, and “kitchen makeovers” to disrupt behavior settings. The effect of the package on behavior was evaluated via a cluster‐randomized before–after study in four villages with four villages serving as controls. The primary outcome was the difference in the mean cluster level proportions of mothers directly observed practicing all five food hygiene behaviors. The five targeted food hygiene behaviors were rare at baseline (composite performance of all five behaviors in intervention 1% [standard deviation (SD) = 2%] and in control groups 2% [SD = 2%]). Six weeks after the intervention, the target behaviors were more common in the intervention than in the control group (43% [SD = 14%] versus 2% [SD = 2%], P = 0.02) during follow-up. The intervention appeared to be equally effective in improving all five behaviors in all intervention clusters. This study shows that a theory-driven, systematic approach employing emotional motivators and modifying behavior settings was capable of substantially improving multiple food hygiene behaviors in Nepal.
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