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Promoting Women’s And Children’s Health Through Community Groups In Low-income And Middle-income Countries: A Mixed-methods Systematic Review Of Mechanisms, Enablers And Barriers

L. Gram, Adam Fitchett, A. Ashraf, N. Daruwalla, D. Osrin
Published 2019 · Medicine, Psychology

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Introduction Community mobilisation through group activities has been used to improve women’s and children’s health in a range of low-income and middle-income contexts, but the mechanisms through which it works deserve greater consideration. We did a mixed-methods systematic review of mechanisms, enablers and barriers to the promotion of women’s and children’s health in community mobilisation interventions. Methods We searched for theoretical and empirical peer-reviewed articles between January 2000 and November 2018. First, we extracted and collated proposed mechanisms, enablers and barriers into categories. Second, we extracted and synthesised evidence for them using narrative synthesis. We assessed risk of bias with adapted Downs and Black and Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklists. We assigned confidence grades to each proposed mechanism, enabler and barrier. Results 78 articles met the inclusion criteria, of which 39 described interventions based on a participatory group education model, 19 described community-led structural interventions to promote sexual health in marginalised populations and 20 concerned other types of intervention or multiple interventions at once. We did not have high confidence in any mechanism, enabler or barrier. Two out of 15 proposed mechanisms and 10 out of 12 proposed enablers and barriers reached medium confidence. A few studies provided direct evidence relating proposed mechanisms, enablers or barriers to health behaviours or health outcomes. Only two studies presented mediation or interaction analysis for a proposed mechanism, enabler or barrier. Conclusion We uncovered multiple proposed mechanisms, enablers and barriers to health promotion through community groups, but much work remains to provide a robust evidence base for proposed mechanisms, enablers and barriers. PROSPERO registration number CRD42018093695.
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