A household-based community health worker programme for non-communicable disease, malnutrition, tuberculosis, HIV and maternal health: a stepped-wedge cluster randomised controlled trial in Neno District, Malawi

Emily B Wroe, Basimenye Nhlema, Elizabeth L Dunbar, Alexandra V Kulinkina, Chiyembekezo Kachimanga, Moses Aron, Luckson Dullie, Henry Makungwa, Benson Chabwera, Benson Phiri, Lawrence Nazimera, Enoch P L Ndarama, Annie Michaelis, Ryan McBain, Celia Brown, Daniel Palazuelos, Richard Lilford, Samuel I Watson

Click on image to access article.

Community health worker (CHW) programmes are a valuable component of primary care in resource-poor settings. In this study, we evaluated expanding an existing HIV and tuberculosis (TB) disease-specific CHW programme into a polyvalent, household-based model that subsequently included non-communicable diseases (NCDs), malnutrition and TB screening, as well as family planning and antenatal care (ANC).

We conducted a stepped-wedge cluster randomised controlled trial in Neno District, Malawi.

The intervention resulted in a decrease of approximately 20% in the rate of patients defaulting from chronic NCD care each month (−0.8 percentage points (pp) (95% credible interval: −2.5 to 0.5)) while maintaining the already low default rates for HIV patients (0.0 pp, 95% CI: −0.6 to 0.5). First trimester ANC attendance increased by approximately 30% (6.5pp (−0.3, 15.8)) and paediatric malnutrition case finding declined by 10% (−0.6 per 1000 (95% CI −2.5 to 0.8)). There were no changes in TB programme outcomes, potentially due to data challenges.