The diffusion of health knowledge through social networks: an impact evaluation of health knowledge asymmetries on child health

The diffusion of health knowledge through social networks: an impact evaluation of health knowledge asymmetries on child health

This research is embedded in a larger cluster-randomised control trial that aimed to evaluate the impact of Helen Keller International’s Enhanced Homestead Food Production (EHFP) model on the nutritional status of women and young children. EHFP has an agricultural component and a nutrition behaviour-change communication component; the latter uses the Essential Nutrition Action framework to encourage consumption of micro-nutrient rich foods and small animals year-round. This study is set in 55 villages in Fada N’Gourma in eastern Burkina Faso.

Recent evidence has called into question whether such programmes can affect child nutritional status and anaemia. In addition to this knowledge gap, the role that social networks play in influencing the adoption of behaviour change in nutrition interventions has not been widely explored. This study aims to contribute to filling those gaps.

The key research questions in this study address the role of social networks in diffusing nutrition information among caregivers and to assess whether using (government-coordinated volunteer) health committee members (HCs) or old women leaders (OWLs) have differential impact on the spread and adoption of information and, consequently, feeding behaviours of caregivers and, in turn, the main impacts of interest. These are child nutrition (as captured by height-for-age, weight-for-age and weight-for-height), anaemia and severe anaemia. These outcomes will be measured for children aged between 3 and 12 months or less at baseline.

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