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Do Community Health Workers Lead to Improved Health Awareness

  • 2015-2017
  • Project
Alam, Shamma Adeeb, University of Washington

Study: “Do Community Health Workers Lead to Improved Health Awareness and Increased Use of Health Technology among Individuals? Evidence Using Experimental Data from Uganda”
PI(s): Alam, Shamma Adeeb
Affiliation(s): University of Washington
Institutional Partner(s): PRB/Hewlett Alumni Research Grant
Project Dates:
Start: 2015
End: 2017
Data Source(s): BRAC
Methods: Randomized controlled trial
Geographic Location(s): Uganda


Community health workers (CHWs) are increasingly being used to improve the health of people in developing countries by providing services and important health information to individuals, addressing topics such as hygiene practices, importance of antenatal and postnatal care for women, significance of birth control and reproductive health, and ways in which certain fatal diseases are transmitted and can be prevented. Consequently, it is very important to learn the effect of these CHWs on people with inadequate or no access to health services.

While there has been research on the role of CHWs on some of these issues, there have been very few studies that use an actual experimental setting to precisely examine the role of CHWs in improving people’s health awareness, use of preventive health measures, and final health outcomes. This project will examine these relationships using a unique experiment in Uganda. BRAC, a development organization, conducted a randomized controlled trial in 129 villages in Central and Northern regions of Uganda where they introduced CHWs in areas in Uganda that have never been exposed to CHWs. BRAC collected household survey data before and after CHWs were introduced in the area (2010 and 2012). This project will address the following research questions: 1) Do community health workers lead individuals to have greater hygiene practices or increase the likelihood of using precautionary measures against diseases? 2) Do community health workers lead to greater health awareness and understanding among the people in the area whom they serve? 3) Do community health workers (by providing affordable contraceptives and information on family planning) lead to greater use of family planning methods and lower fertility? Understanding whether CHWs have an influence on their clients can help inform future policies and program decisions on the use and effectiveness of CHWs.

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