We conducted a nonrandomized trial of strategies to promote soapy water for handwashing in rural Bangladesh and measured uptake. We enrolled households with children < 3 years for three progressively intensive study arms: promotion of soapy water (N = 120), soapy water promotion plus handwashing stations (N = 103), and soapy water promotion, stations plus detergent refills (N = 90); we also enrolled control households (N = 72). Our handwashing stations included tap-fitted buckets and soapy water bottles. Community promoters visited households and held community meetings to demonstrate soapy water preparation and promote handwashing at key times. Field workers measured uptake 4 months later. In-depth interviews and focus group discussions assessed factors associated with uptake. More households had soapy water at the handwashing place in progressively intensive arms: 18% (promotion), 60% (promotion plus station), and 71% (promotion, station with refills). Compared with the promotion-only arm, more households that received stations had soapy water at the primary handwashing station (44%, P . 0.001; 71%, P < 0.001 with station plus detergent refill). Qualitative findings highlighted several dimensions that affected use: contextual (shared courtyard), psychosocial (perceived value), and technology dimensions (ease of use, convenience). Soapy water may increase habitual handwashing by addressing barriers of cost and availability of handwashing agents near water sources. Further research should inform optimal strategies to scale-up soapy water as a handwashing agent to study health impact.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases