Using market research to shape a national health programme for India

Date of publication: September 1, 1989


This paper shows how a market research study in rural India designed essentially to develop communication for India's National Diarrhoea Management Programme, resulted in shaping the programme strategy. Diarrhoea is a major cause of child mortality in India responsible for approximately 1.5 million childhood deaths each year. These deaths are largely preventible through Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) which involves continual administration of any of a wide range of fluids most of which can be made at home. The simplest of these is a solution of sugar, salt and water. The effective management of diarrhoea in the home therefore needs to be taught to every mother. The objective of the study was to understand current knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) regarding diarrhoea among mothers in order to obtain baseline information for designing a communications strategy. This understanding was necessary at the level of each administrative-political state as well as on a national basis. The study was designed in two-stages. The first stage was exploratory and sought to understand the range of knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding diarrhoea across the country. The second stage was designed to quantify data that was considered important for the design of the programme and its communications strategy. 168 focus group discussions, 453 tape recorded in-depth interviews and 5310 personal interviews based on a structured questionnaire provided the data base.

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