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Effects of community health worker interventions on socioeconomic inequities in maternal and newborn health in low-income and middle-income countries: A mixed-methods systematic review

Blanchard, AK; Prost, A; Houweling, TAJ; (2019) Effects of community health worker interventions on socioeconomic inequities in maternal and newborn health in low-income and middle-income countries: A mixed-methods systematic review. BMJ Global Health , 4 (3) , Article e001308. 10.1136/bmjgh-2018-001308. Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction Community health worker (CHW) interventions are promoted to improve maternal and newborn health in low-income and middle-income countries. We reviewed the evidence on their effectiveness in reducing socioeconomic inequities in maternal and newborn health outcomes, how they achieve these effects, and contextual processes that shape these effects. Methods We conducted a mixed-methods systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies published between 1996 and 2017 in Medline, Embase, Web of Science and Scopus databases. We included studies examining the effects of CHW interventions in low-income and middle-income countries on maternal and newborn health outcomes across socioeconomic groups (wealth, occupation, education, class, caste or tribe and religion). We then conducted a narrative synthesis of evidence. Results We identified 1919 articles, of which 22 met the inclusion criteria. CHWs facilitated four types of interventions: home visits, community-based groups, cash transfers or combinations of these. Four studies found that CHWs providing home visits or facilitating women’s groups had equitable coverage. Four others found that home visits and cash transfer interventions had inequitable coverage. Five studies reported equitable effects of CHW interventions on antenatal care, skilled birth attendance and/or essential newborn care. One study found that a CHW home visit intervention did not reduce wealth inequities in skilled birth attendance. A study of women’s groups reported greater reductions in neonatal mortality among lower compared with higher socioeconomic groups. Equity was most improved when CHWs had relevant support for assisting women to improve health practices and access health care within community contexts. Conclusion While current evidence remains limited, particularly for mortality, existing studies suggest that CHW interventions involving home visits, cash transfers, participatory women’s groups or multiple components can improve equity in maternal and newborn health. Future mixed-methods research should explore intervention strategies and contextual processes shaping such effects on equity to optimise these efforts.

Type: Article
Title: Effects of community health worker interventions on socioeconomic inequities in maternal and newborn health in low-income and middle-income countries: A mixed-methods systematic review
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2018-001308
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2018-001308
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10077287
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