Table 1

Contrasting contextual complexity of diarrhoea management with zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS) vs women’s groups

Contextual complexityDiarrhoea management: zinc and ORSWomen’s groups
Intervention characteristics
  • Underlying health condition(s) targeted.

  • Intervention’s design aspects (number of elements and transactions required).

  • Intervention’s use (extent of discretion and deviance users have in its adoption).

  • Severity of acute diarrhoea may vary, as does symptom recognition and disease classification by caregivers.

  • Use of ORS does not lessen the stool output or disease severity.

  • Recommended course of zinc treatment spans 10–14 days and observed reductions in stool output may take days to be realised.

  • User demand and supplier preference for antidiarrhoeals and antibiotics as an alternative remain unaddressed, subverting ORS and zinc health education messages.

  • Initial focus on maternal-newborn health encompasses various health conditions and issues, but groups can address community health issues beyond maternal-newborn if prioritised by them.

  • Participatory nature of the intervention means that groups can go beyond maternal newborn health.

  • Focus and function depends on quality of facilitation and extent of devolved power.

Delivery strategy
  • Range of inputs.

  • Through what channels.

  • With what oversight.

  • ORS and zinc as products are fixed, although variations in the taste masking, formulation and packaging may occur.

  • Ensuring product quality, availability and distribution is socially complex:

    • Zinc can take several days to reduce stool output resulting in users pressuring providers for antidiarrhoeals or other products.

    • Zinc dosage sold by private providers may vary based on number of other products prescribed, user resources/profit thresholds and other factors.

  • Training manuals, guidelines for supervision and job aids that support an overall process of convening meetings and discussing topics developed.

  • These are contextually adapted with ongoing facilitation to develop local strategies.

Community context
  • Community member composition and characteristics.

  • Their terms of engagement and control over the intervention.

  • Existing power dynamics and relationships.

  • Current social norms and practices.

  • The contestation of social change in non-linear ways.

  • While power relations exist between caregivers of young children, other family members and local health, their social relations are unlikely to alter the nature of ORS and zinc as a standardised product. However, private providers will market products as being different given the need to differentiate what can be accessed for free from the public sector.

  • Targets a broad group of stakeholders and needs to engage with power relations between them, particularly when marginalised groups begin to work on changing social norms and practices that contravene women’s health.

  • Adaptations include self-selection in and out of the group, frequency of meetings, continuity and representativeness of group leadership.

  • Initial actions and reactions or feedback loops key to building trust, legitimacy and social capital for further actions. Contestation by conservative community gatekeepers can undermine initial actions particularly if gains are not visible.