Approaches to Increase Arsenic Awareness in Bangladesh: An Evaluation of an Arsenic Education Program

Christine Marie George, Pam Factor-Litvak, Khalid Khan, Tariqul Islam, Ashit Singha, Joyce Moon-Howard, Alexander van Geen, Joseph H. Graziano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The objective of this study was to design and evaluate a household-level arsenic education and well water arsenic testing intervention to increase arsenic awareness in Bangladesh. The authors randomly selected 1,000 study respondents located in 20 villages in Singair, Bangladesh. The main outcome was the change in knowledge of arsenic from baseline to follow-up 4 to 6 months after the household received the intervention. This was assessed through a pre- and postintervention quiz concerning knowledge of arsenic. Respondents were between 18 and 102 years of age, with an average age of 37 years; 99.9% were female. The knowledge of arsenic quiz scores for study participants were significantly higher at follow-up compared with baseline. The intervention was effective in increasing awareness of the safe uses of arsenic-contaminated water and dispelling the misconception that boiling water removes arsenic. At follow-up, nearly all respondents were able to correctly identify the meaning of a red (contaminated) and green (arsenic safe) well relative to arsenic (99%). The educational program also significantly increased the proportion of respondents who were able to correctly identify the health implications of arsenic exposure. However, the intervention was not effective in dispelling the misconceptions in the population that arsenicosis is contagious and that illnesses such as cholera, diarrhea, and vomiting could be caused by arsenic. Further research is needed to develop effective communication strategies to dispel these misconceptions. This study demonstrates that a household-level arsenic educational program can be used to significantly increase arsenic awareness in Bangladesh.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-338
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013

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Keywords

  • arsenic
  • developing countries
  • educational intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

George, C. M., Factor-Litvak, P., Khan, K., Islam, T., Singha, A., Moon-Howard, J., van Geen, A., & Graziano, J. H. (2013). Approaches to Increase Arsenic Awareness in Bangladesh: An Evaluation of an Arsenic Education Program. Health Education and Behavior, 40(3), 331-338. https://doi.org/10.1177/1090198112454735