“SuperAmma” campaign results in significant improvements in people’s handwashing behaviour | Source: SHARE, Feb 27 2014 |
A unique handwashing campaign jointly funded by SHARE and the Wellcome Trust has shown for the first time that using emotional motivators – such as feelings of disgust and nurture – rather than health messages, can result in significant, long-lasting improvements in people’s handwashing behaviour, and could in turn help to reduce the risk of infectious diseases.
“Every year, diarrhoea kills around 800,000 children under 5 years old. Handwashing with soap could prevent perhaps a third of these deaths”, explains study author Dr Val Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
“Handwashing campaigns usually try to educate people with health messages about germs and diseases, but so far efforts to change handwashing behaviour on a large scale have had little success. Understanding the motivating factors for routine hand washing is essential to any initiative likely to achieve lasting behaviour change.”
An evaluation of the behaviour-change intervention, published by the Lancet Global Health journal today, shows that 6 months after the campaign was rolled out in 14 villages in rural India, rates of handwashing with soap increased by 31%, compared to communities without the programme, and were sustained for 12 months.