Methods and measures to assess health care provider behavior and behavioral determinants in reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health: A rapid review

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Background: Health care provider behavior is the outcome of a complex set of factors that are both internal and external to the provider. Social and behavior change (SBC) programs are increasingly engaging providers and introducing strategies to improve their service delivery. However, there is limited understanding of methods and measures applied to assess provider behavioral outcomes and strengthen provider behavior change programming. Methods: Using PubMed, we conducted a rapid review of published research on behaviors of health workers providing reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services in low- and middle-income countries (2010–2021). Information on study identifiers (e.g., type of provider), select domains from Green and Kreuter’s PRECEDE-PROCEED framework (e.g., predisposing factors such as attitudes), study characteristics (e.g., study type and design), and evidence of theory-driven research were extracted from a final sample of articles (N=89) and summarized. Results: More than 80% of articles were descriptive/formative and examined knowledge, attitudes, and practice, mostly related to family planning. Among the few evaluation studies, training-focused interventions to increase provider knowledge or improve competency in providing a health service were dominant. Research driven by behavioral theory was observed in only 3 studies. Most articles (75%) focused on the quality of client-provider interaction, though topics and modes of measurement varied widely. Very few studies incorporated a validated scale to measure underlying constructs, such as attitudes and beliefs, and how these may be associated with provider behaviors. Conclusion: A need exists for (1) theory-driven approaches to designing and measuring provider behavior change interventions and (2) measurement that addresses important internal and structural factors related to a provider’s behavior (beyond knowledge-enhancing training approaches). Additional investment in implementation research is also needed to better understand which SBC approaches are shifting provider behavior and improving client-provider interactions. Finally, theory-driven approaches could help develop empirically measurable and comparable outcomes.






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