Applying Behavioral Economics to Improve Women’s Experience with Maternal Care in Zambia

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In Zambia, Breakthrough RESEARCH, through a study led by ideas42, is working to unpack and address the behavioral challenges that prevent providers from adhering to best practices during facility-based deliveries. After a scoping visit in Zambia and literature review of more than 20 related provider behaviors, the research team chose providers’ behavior during delivery—specifically, respectful maternal care—as a focus of study because of its potential for generating knowledge and having an impact on maternal health care.

ideas42 partnered with the USAID-funded Safe Motherhood 360+ project (SM360+) to conduct in-depth qualitative research with midwives, postpartum women, and other stakeholders to identify the behavioral drivers of disrespectful care. Using these insights, ideas42 and SM360+ are working with providers and patients to design solutions based in behavioral economics that can improve the experience of delivery care for the women of Zambia’s Eastern Province.

Breakthrough RESEARCH, with input from USAID and implementing partners, developed a programmatic research brief that describes insights from behavioral design about why health care providers may not follow best practices in providing respectful maternal care during labor and delivery.

The brief uses behavioral design to analyze contextual features and behavioral barriers to respectful maternal care in urban and rural health care settings. Drawing on the insights from this process, the brief identifies a set of simple, adaptable low-cost solutions to help providers follow best practice guidelines.

For more information, contact Jana Smith and

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