Marc Boulay, Matthew Lynch and Hannah Koenker. Comparing two approaches for estimating the causal effect of behaviour-change communication messages promoting insecticide-treated bed nets: an analysis of the 2010 Zambia malaria indicator survey. Malaria Journal
Abstract / Summary:
Over the past decade, efforts to increase the use of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) have relied primarily on the routine distribution of bed nets to pregnant women attending antenatal services or on the mass distribution of bed nets to households. While these distributions have increased the proportion of households owning ITNs and the proportion of people sleeping under an ITN the night prior to the survey, the role that behaviour-change communication (BCC) plays in the use of ITNs remains unquantified.This paper uses two analytic approaches, propensity score matching and treatment effect modelling, to examine the relationship between exposure to the BCC messages and the use of a bed net the previous night, using the 2010 Zambia Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS).When matched on similar propensity scores, a statistically significant 29.5 percentage point difference in ITN use is observed between exposed and unexposed respondents. Fifty-nine per cent of unexposed respondents reported sleeping under an ITN the previous night, compared to 88% of the exposed respondents. A smaller but similarly significant difference between exposed and unexposed groups, 12.7 percentage points, is observed in the treatment effect model, which also controls for the number of bed nets owned by the household and exposure to malaria information from health workers.Using either approach, a statistically significant effect of exposure to BCC messages on a woman's use of an ITN was found. Propensity score matching has the advantage of using statistically-matched pairs and relying on the assumption that given the measured covariates, outcome is independent of treatment assignment (conditional independence assumption), thereby allowing us to mimic a randomized control trial. Results from propensity score matching indicate that BCC messages account for a 29-percentage point increase in the use of ITNs among Zambian households that already own at least one ITN.These analyses serve to illustrate that BCC programmes can contribute to national programmes seeking to increase the use of ITNs inside the home. They also offer a viable approach for evaluating the effectiveness of other BCC programmes promoting behaviour that will reduce malaria transmission or mitigate the consequences of infection.
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