Background: This study aimed to evaluate the impact of a community-based health education and communication programme on reducing liver fluke infections caused by the consumption of uncooked fish among people in a high-risk area of Thailand. Materials and
Methods: The study was quasi-experimental in nature, with three-stages. Stage 1 involved a situational and capacity analysis of designated communities in Khon Kaen province. This was followed by the development of a model for community-based health education and communication to prevent liver fluke infections among high-risk people, and, lastly, implementation and evaluation of the model were performed. Data were collected using both qualitative and quantitative methods. In total, 390 people were surveyed, and quasi-experimental and comparison groups, each with 90 people, were assessed between May 2011 and April 2012. Analysis was using statistical OR, 95 % CI, the Willcoxon matched pairs signed ranks test, the chi-square test, and the Mann-Whitney U test.
Results: The findings showed that most respondents had a high level of knowledge and understanding of liver fluke disease (89.5%, 95% CI:86.0-92.4), and positive attitudes toward the prevention of the disease (94.4%, 95% CI:91.6-96.4). However, with regard to changes in consumption of uncooked fish, most respondents were still in the pre-contemplation phase (55.1%, 95% CI:50.0-60.1), followed by the contemplation phase, 22.6%. Furthermore, four factors were found to be associated with the consumption of uncooked fish - the consumption of alcohol (OR 4.16, 95% CI:1.79-9.65), gender (OR 3.17 , 95% CI:1.53-6.54), smoking (OR 3.03, 95% CI:1.31-7.05), and age 40 years and above (OR 2.68, 95% CI:1.02-7.05). After nine months of the health education and communication programme using local media based on local wisdom, culture and persons, the results showed that, compared to the control group, members of the experimental group had a higher level of knowledge, a better attitude and lower levels of illadvised consumption behaviour. Also, it was found that consumption of uncooked fish, by an assessment of the level of stage of change, was reduced. (p-value 0.002).
Conclusions: The health education and communication programme developed as part of the study was effective in changing the consumption of uncooked fish. Therefore, this approach should be promoted in other high-risk areas in Thailand in the future.