Does poor mental health impair the effectiveness of complementary food hygiene behavior change intervention in rural Malawi? Inclusion of child caregivers with poor mental health in humanitarian action

Jurgita Slekiene, Kondwani Chidziwisano, Tracy Morse

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Abstract

Mental disorders have the potential to affect an individual’s capacity to perform household daily activities such as water, sanitation, and hygiene (food hygiene inclusive) that require effort, time, and strong internal motivation. However, there is limited detailed assessment about the influence of mental health on food hygiene behaviors at household level. We conducted a follow-up study to detect the effects of mental health on food hygiene behaviors after food hygiene intervention delivery to child caregivers in rural Malawi. Face-to-face interviews, based on the Risk, Attitude, Norms, Ability, and Self-regulations (RANAS) model, were conducted with 819 participants (control and intervention group) to assess their handwashing and food hygiene-related behaviors. Mental health was assessed using the validated Self-Reporting Questionnaire. Study results showed a significant negative relationship between mental health and handwashing with soap behavior (r = −0.135) and keeping utensils in an elevated place (r = −0.093). Further, a significant difference was found between people with good versus poor mental health on handwashing with soap behavior (p = 0.050) among the intervention group. The results showed that the influence of the intervention on handwashing with soap behavior was mediated by mental health. Thus, integration of mental health in food hygiene interventions can result in improved outcomes for caregivers with poor mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10589
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number17
Early online date25 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • behavior change
  • public health
  • humanitarian action
  • RANAS
  • rural Malawi
  • complementary food hygiene behaviors
  • evidence-based health promotion
  • intervention effectiveness

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