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Am J Public Health. 2013 Oct;103(10):1736-40. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301367. Epub 2013 Aug 15.

To promote adoption of household health technologies, think beyond health.

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At the time of the study, Mark C. Thurber and Alexander Slaski were with the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Christina Warner and Lauren Platt were with the Program in Human Biology, Rajesh Gupta was with the School of Medicine, and Grant Miller was with the School of Medicine and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.


Health risks from poor malaria control, unsafe water, and indoor air pollution are responsible for an important share of the global disease burden-and they can be addressed by efficacious household health technologies that have existed for decades. However, coverage rates of these products among populations at risk remain disappointingly low. We conducted a review of the medical and public health literatures and found that health considerations alone are rarely sufficient motivation for households to adopt and use these technologies. In light of these findings, we argue that health education and persuasion campaigns by themselves are unlikely to be adequate. Instead, health policymakers and professionals must understand what users value beyond health and possibly reengineer health technologies with these concerns in mind.

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