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Hum Resour Health. 2017 Jul 1;15(1):44. doi: 10.1186/s12960-017-0222-3.

How female community health workers navigate work challenges and why there are still gaps in their performance: a look at female community health workers in maternal and child health in two Indian districts through a reciprocal determinism framework.

Author information

1
University Research Co., LLC, B7, 1st floor, Suncity, sector 54, Gurgaon, Haryana, 122001, India. esarin@jhsph.edu.
2
EnCompass LLC, Rockville, United States of America.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) are community health workers tasked to deliver health prevention in communities and link them with the health care sector. This paper examines the social, cultural, and institutional influences that either facilitate or impede ASHAs' abilities to deliver services effectively through the lens of the reciprocal determinism framework of social cognitive theory.

METHODS:

We conducted 98 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with ASHAs (n = 49) and their family members (n = 49) in Gurdaspur and Mewat districts. Data were analyzed by comparing and contrasting codes leading to the identification of patterns which were explained with the help of a theoretical framework.

RESULTS:

We found that while the work of ASHAs led to some positive health changes in the community, thus providing them with a sense of self-worth and motivation, community norms and beliefs as well as health system attitudes and practices limited their capacity as community health workers.

CONCLUSION:

We outline potential mechanisms for improving ASHA capacity such as improved sensitization about religious, cultural, and gender norms; enhanced communication skills; and sensitization and advocating their work with health and state officials.

KEYWORDS:

Community health worker; Gender norms; Health worker performance; India; Reproductive and maternal health; Social cognitive theory

PMID:
28666447
PMCID:
PMC5493888
DOI:
10.1186/s12960-017-0222-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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