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A new study has found that Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA)s can be trained to lead community-based group educational discussions and to support individuals in managing high blood pressure. Researcher Pallab Maulik from the George Institute for Global Health, who was part of the study, said hypertension was a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is a leading cause of premature death and disability in India. Since access to health services is poor in rural India, a potential solution for improving hypertension control was by utilising ASHA workers across the country, who work for maternal and child health programmes.
Researchers then developed and implemented a training package for the workers to identify and control hypertension in the community, and evaluated the effectiveness of the programme using the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model for measuring reactions, learning, behaviour and results using tests on knowledge at baseline, post-training and post-intervention, observation of performance during meetings and post-intervention interviews. The programme was part of a three-month intervention to improve hypertension outcomes in south India.
At least 15 ASHA workers attended a five-day training workshop that was delivered using interactive instructional strategies, after which they led community-based education support groups for three months. The workers’ knowledge of hypertension improved from a mean score of 64 per cent at baseline to 76 per cent post-training and 84 per cent after the 3-month intervention. Research officers, who observed the community meetings, reported that workers delivered the self-management content effectively without additional assistance.
The study was published in May in the BMC Health Services journal. On May 17, the George Institute also released a white paper: ‘Training programmes for ASHAs on hypertension found effective in managing high blood pressure’.