An empirical test of the Sadharanikaran communication theory to defecation hygiene behavior: evaluation of a child-to-community intervention in Maharashtra, India.
This doctoral dissertation reports on the empirical use of a multivariate logistic regression model to test an ancient Indian communication theory, Sadharanikaran (which incorporates emotional response, simplicity, asymmetry, talk, and universalization) to predict hand-washing behavior after defecation in rural Maharashtra, India. The impact of child educators on the defecation-related hand-washing behavior of rural women was also tested in a quasi-experimental study with a pre/post-test comparison group. The survey data were collected from independent samples in 1990 and 1993 among 934 women 15-60 years old in intervention or control villages. Predictive models were fitted with post-test data for 264 respondents in the intervention group and 301 controls. A likelihood ratio test indicated that the Sadharanikaran variables significantly increased the explanatory power of the model. Other predictors of hand washing with soap were the location of the soap (indoors vs. outdoors), the role of ecological settings, literacy, female occupation, and perceived barriers. The children significantly influenced soap use among the women. Subjects <or= 34 years old were 4 times more likely and those > 34 years old were 8 times more likely to use soap than controls. The success of the Indian communication theory has important research, policy, and programmatic implications in developing countries where Western theories are usually applied. Also, the success of the children as hygiene-promoters is important in breaking the fecal-oral cycle which is responsible for the transmission of about 80% of the water-borne disease in developing countries.