Harnessing the power of behavioral science: An implementation pilot to improve the quality of maternity care in rural Madagascar

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Background: Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is the leading direct cause of maternal deaths worldwide, and women in low-income countries are at particularly high risk of dying from PPH-related consequences. Most deaths can be avoided through consistent provider adherence to prevention protocols and timely, appropriate management, yet providers do not consistently adhere to these best practices. Using Behavioral Design To Develop Solutions to Improve Provider Care: We applied the behavioral design methodology to identify behavioral drivers, develop solutions, and build a program theory of change. Implementation research was conducted to understand the adoption, desirability, feasibility, and appropriateness of the solutions and explore suggestive findings related to impact. Data were collected through observation and in-depth interviews. Solutions developed included: (1) a timer to remind providers of the 1-minute window to administer oxytocin; (2) a glow-in-the-dark poster illustrating a simplified algorithm for PPH management; (3) badges to assign family members tasks to support providers during labor and delivery; and (4) a risk visualization exercise. Clinical mentors introduced the solutions during facility visits, and providers received orientation using videos. Solutions were piloted in 10 rural facilities in southeastern Madagascar during November–December 2020. Results: Providers reported high adoption of the timers and task badges during routine deliveries. They remarked on the desirability and appropriateness of the timer, task badges, and algorithm poster, as well as the value of the cocreation process. Adoption of the timer solution shows promise in having a potential positive impact on increasing the awareness of and adherence to timely oxytocin administration. Conclusion: This work highlights the promise of applying behavioral science to identify underlying drivers of gaps in clinical practice and to develop innovative and desirable solutions to address them






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