A holistic approach to promoting early child development: a cluster randomised trial of a group-based, multicomponent intervention in rural Bangladesh

Helen O Pitchik, Fahmida Tofail, Mahbubur Rahman, Fahmida Akter, Jesmin Sultana, Abul Kasham Shoab, Tarique Md. Nurul Huda, Tania Jahir, Md Ruhul Amin, Md Khobair Hossain, Jyoti Bhushan Das, Esther O Chung (+8 others)
2021 BMJ Global Health  
IntroductionIn low- and middle-income countries, children experience multiple risks for delayed development. We evaluated a multicomponent, group-based early child development intervention including behavioural recommendations on responsive stimulation, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, mental health and lead exposure prevention.MethodsWe conducted a 9-month, parallel, multiarm, cluster-randomised controlled trial in 31 rural villages in Kishoreganj District, Bangladesh. Villages were
more » ... mly allocated to: group sessions ('group'); alternating groups and home visits ('combined'); or a passive control arm. Sessions were delivered fortnightly by trained community members. The primary outcome was child stimulation (Family Care Indicators); the secondary outcome was child development (Ages and Stages Questionnaire Inventory, ASQi). Other outcomes included dietary diversity, latrine status, use of a child potty, handwashing infrastructure, caregiver mental health and knowledge of lead. Analyses were intention to treat. Data collectors were independent from implementers.ResultsIn July–August 2017, 621 pregnant women and primary caregivers of children<15 months were enrolled (group n=160, combined n=160, control n=301). At endline, immediately following intervention completion (July–August 2018), 574 participants were assessed (group n=144, combined n=149, control n=281). Primary caregivers in both intervention arms participated in more play activities than control caregivers (age-adjusted means: group 4.22, 95% CI 3.97 to 4.47; combined 4.77, 4.60 to 4.96; control 3.24, 3.05 to 3.39), and provided a larger variety of play materials (age-adjusted means: group 3.63, 3.31 to 3.96; combined 3.81, 3.62 to 3.99; control 2.48, 2.34 to 2.59). Compared with the control arm, children in the group arm had higher total ASQi scores (adjusted mean difference in standardised scores: 0.39, 0.15 to 0.64), while in the combined arm scores were not significantly different from the control (0.25, –0.07 to 0.54).ConclusionOur findings suggest that group-based, multicomponent interventions can be effective at improving child development outcomes in rural Bangladesh, and that they have the potential to be delivered at scale.Trial registration numberThe trial is registered in ISRCTN (ISRCTN16001234).
doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2020-004307 pmid:33727278 fatcat:t3nftwk3r5dftf6yniiifqvzs4