8.1 Assessing behaviour in the context of hygiene and sanitation

Health behaviour is defined as any action that is related to disease prevention, health maintenance, health improvement or the restoration of health. Health behaviour can be affected by many different personal attributes such as beliefs, expectations, status, income, motives, values, perceptions and personality characteristics including emotional states and traits.

As a frontline WASH practitioner you may be tasked with promoting improved hygiene and sanitation related health behaviours in your community. Improving behaviours means getting people to change their existing behaviour – not always an easy activity!

Think of a time when you have tried to get one or more people to change their behaviour, either at home or in your job. You should be able to say:

  • who needed to make what change (and who needed to support them)
  • what the key factors were in motivating and/or holding back these individuals/groups
  • what you did to influence those factors and bring about the change.

Identifying these key components to your situation is essentially applying a framework that helps you to understand and consider all the factors involved in the process. In this case, these three points could be grouped as follows:

In order to help …I focused on …through …
… the target population to achieve desired behaviour… the key factors … influencing activities.

When you want to plan a behaviour change, using a framework approach like this is a good way to make sure you are capturing all the important issues.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 8

8.2 Analysing and explaining behaviours using a FOAM framework