Outputs, Outcomes, and Behavioural Impacts of an Antibiotic-Related Educational Activity in Lao PDR
Haenssgen MJ., Xayavong T., Charoenboon N., Warapikuptanun P., Khine Zaw Y.
Education and awareness raising are the primary tools of global health policy to change public behaviour. Considering the limitations of awareness agenda and the lack of social research to inform alternative approaches, our objective was to generate new empirical evidence on the consequences of antibiotic-related awareness raising in a low-income country context. We implemented an educational activity in two Lao villages to share general antibiotic-related messages, but also to learn about people’s conceptions and health behaviours. Two rounds of census survey data enabled us to assess the activity’s outputs, its knowledge outcomes, and its immediate behavioural impacts in a difference-in-difference design. Our panel data covered 1,130 adults over two rounds, including 58 activity participants and 208 villagers exposed indirectly via conversations in the village. We found that activity-related communication circulated among more privileged groups, which limited its indirect effects. Among participants, the activity influenced the awareness and understanding of “drug resistance,” while effects on attitudes were minor. Evidence on behavioural impacts was sparse and mixed, but the range of possible consequences included a disproportionate uptake of antibiotics from formal healthcare providers. Our study casts doubt on the continued dominance of awareness raising as a behavioural tool to address antibiotic resistance.