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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The Integrated Behavioural Model for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: a systematic review of behavioural models and a framework for designing and evaluating behaviour change interventions in infrastructure-restricted settings

Robert Dreibelbis1*, Peter J Winch1, Elli Leontsini1, Kristyna RS Hulland1, Pavani K Ram2, Leanne Unicomb3 and Stephen P Luby34

Author Affiliations

1 Social and Behavioural Interventions Program, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

2 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA

3 Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Research Group, Centre for Communicable Diseases, icddr,b, Dhaka, Bangladesh

4 Woods Institute of the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1015  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1015

Published: 26 October 2013

Abstract

Background

Promotion and provision of low-cost technologies that enable improved water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices are seen as viable solutions for reducing high rates of morbidity and mortality due to enteric illnesses in low-income countries. A number of theoretical models, explanatory frameworks, and decision-making models have emerged which attempt to guide behaviour change interventions related to WASH. The design and evaluation of such interventions would benefit from a synthesis of this body of theory informing WASH behaviour change and maintenance.

Methods

We completed a systematic review of existing models and frameworks through a search of related articles available in PubMed and in the grey literature. Information on the organization of behavioural determinants was extracted from the references that fulfilled the selection criteria and synthesized. Results from this synthesis were combined with other relevant literature, and from feedback through concurrent formative and pilot research conducted in the context of two cluster-randomized trials on the efficacy of WASH behaviour change interventions to inform the development of a framework to guide the development and evaluation of WASH interventions: the Integrated Behavioural Model for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (IBM-WASH).

Results

We identified 15 WASH-specific theoretical models, behaviour change frameworks, or programmatic models, of which 9 addressed our review questions. Existing models under-represented the potential role of technology in influencing behavioural outcomes, focused on individual-level behavioural determinants, and had largely ignored the role of the physical and natural environment. IBM-WASH attempts to correct this by acknowledging three dimensions (Contextual Factors, Psychosocial Factors, and Technology Factors) that operate on five-levels (structural, community, household, individual, and habitual).

Conclusions

A number of WASH-specific models and frameworks exist, yet with some limitations. The IBM-WASH model aims to provide both a conceptual and practical tool for improving our understanding and evaluation of the multi-level multi-dimensional factors that influence water, sanitation, and hygiene practices in infrastructure-constrained settings. We outline future applications of our proposed model as well as future research priorities needed to advance our understanding of the sustained adoption of water, sanitation, and hygiene technologies and practices.

Keywords:
Behavioural theory; Behaviour change; Water; Sanitation; Hygiene; Technology; Systematic review