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Formative Research at the Forefront

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Behavior change is at the core of most public health interventions. Whether it is changing the behavior of beneficiaries within a program, or gaining buy-in or commitment from key stakeholders such as community leaders, program staff , and policy-makers, practitioners must rely on others’ behavior change for nutrition interventions to be successful. Changing the behaviors of people is challenging because they are often deeply embedded in cultural (or organizational) practices and patterns of exchange that are shaped by environmental, political, and social factors. In public health, behavior-change interventions are those programs that we design specifically in to change old behaviors or promote new health-seeking behaviors that will create a positive impact on a health outcome. For some nutrition interventions, we only try to impact upon a single behavior (e.g., bringing a child to a health center and taking a pill for de-worming). In other cases, where multiple behaviors give rise to a set of practices, the list of behaviors to change can be extensive (e.g., complementary feeding practices, management of childhood illnesses, improved hygiene and sanitation). Yet despite the centrality and magnitude of behaviors to public health interventions, nutritionists give very little importance to understanding behavior, how it arises, what drives it, and what attitudes and beliefs underlie it. Too often, we see money, time, and capacity of health personnel invested in interventions that were not designed with a complete understanding of the many determinants of the behavior of interest. These interventions are likely to face challenges with coverage (how well the target population can be reached), adherence (how well participants engage in the target behavior), and sustainability (how long participants will engage in the target behavior).

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Key Details

Year 2013
Authors Stephen Kodish
Language English
Keywords
DOI https://doi.org/10.52439/KFZK5001
DOI Number 10.52439/KFZK5001
ISBN
ISSN

For all devoted to nutrition.

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