Female community health volunteers' experience in navigating social context while providing basic diabetes services in western Nepal: Social capital and beyond from systems thinking

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The global burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has led to an increased mobilization of community health workers (CHWs) in the prevention and management of NCDs, particularly in resource-poor settings. However, little is known about the experiences of CHWs as they navigate the complex social context while proving home-based NCD management. This study aims to explore the experiences of female community health volunteers (FCHVs) in a community-based pilot project in western Nepal, specially regarding the social challenges they face while delivering basic type 2 diabetes (T2D) services. Using a qualitative phenomenological approach, the study conducted two focus group discussions and nine in-depth interviews with a total of 14 and 9 FCHVs, respectively. Social Capital theory was employed to understand the sociological aspects. The findings shed light on the challenges encountered by FCHVs in expanding their social networks, building trust, and fostering reciprocity among T2D intervention recepients. Notably, social trust was a significant challenge, compounded by power dynamics related to gender and socioeconomic status. FCHVs managed to overcome these challenges through their perseverance, self-motivation, and leaveraging their strong bonding and linking social capital. The recognition they received from the community played a crucial role in sustaining their motivation. The study highlights the importance of FCHVs' strong social capital, supported by available resources and personal motivation, in overcoming social obstacles. It is imperative for community health interventions to anticipate challenges across various elements of social capital to ensure the long-term retention and motivation of CHWs. Establishing appropriate support systems that address personal motivating factors and the strengthen social capital is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0002632
JournalPLOS Global Public Health
Issue number11
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright: © 2023 Dahal et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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