The use of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) is crucial to the prevention, control, and elimination of malaria. Using household surveys conducted in 2014–2015 by the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative project in Madagascar, Mali, and Nigeria, we compared a model of psychosocial influence, called Ideation, to examine how malaria-related variables influence individual and household bed net use in each of these countries. Evaluations of non-malaria programs have confirmed the value of the ideational approach, but it is infrequently used to guide malaria interventions. The study objective was to examine how well this model could identify potentially effective malaria prevention approaches in different contexts.
Sampling and survey designs were similar across countries. A multi-stage random sampling process selected female caregivers with at least one child under 5 years of age for interviews. Additional data were collected from household heads about bed net use and other characteristics of household members. The caregiver survey measured psychosocial variables that were subjected to bivariate and multivariate analysis to identify significant ideational variables related to bed net use.
In all three countries, children and adolescents over five were less likely to sleep under a net compared to children under five (OR = 0.441 in Madagascar, 0.332 in Mali, 0.502 in Nigeria). Adults were less likely to sleep under a net compared to children under five in Mali (OR = 0.374) and Nigeria (OR = 0.448), but not Madagascar. In all countries, the odds of bed net use were lower in larger compared to smaller households (OR = 0.452 in Madagascar and OR = 0.529 in Nigeria for households with 5 or 6 members compared to those with less than 5; and OR = 0.831 in Mali for larger compared to smaller households). Of 14 common ideational variables examined in this study, six were significant predictors in Madagascar (all positive), three in Mali (all positive), and two in Nigeria (both negative).
This research suggests that the systematic use of this model to identify relevant ideational variables in a particular setting can guide the development of communication strategies and messaging, thereby improving the effectiveness of malaria prevention and control.