Using the health belief model to identify communication opportunities to prevent Chagas disease in Southern Ecuador

Nelson M. Patterson, Benjamin R. Bates, Amy E. Chadwick, Claudia Nieto-Sanchez, Mario J. Grijalva

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Chagas disease (CD) is a life-threatening illness caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted by triatomine bugs. Triatomine bugs inhabit poorly constructed homes that create multiple hiding spots for the bugs. Modifying the actual structure of a home, along with the homeowners' practices, can reduce triatomine infestation. This research was designed to collect culturally-relevant information to develop a health campaign to decrease risk of CD transmission by promoting home maintenance and better hygiene in rural communities of southern Ecuador.

Methods and main findings

The Health Belief Model (HBM) guided focus group discussions and the interpretation of the results. Four focus groups ranging from 4 to 10 participants were conducted between May and June 2014 in three communities of Loja province in Southern Ecuador. A thematic analysis was used to identify within the data related to perceptions of susceptibility, severity, benefits, barriers and self-efficacy related to CD and its prevention. The results provide clear guidance for the development of Chagas-prevention messages.


Data obtained emphasize the importance of standardizing messages presented to the communities for CD prevention. Messages should provide more information on the protective nature of the behaviors promoted for CD prevention; overcoming barriers such as cost and convenience, and build on facilitating factors, including community members' interest on quality of life, protection of their families, and relationship with the land.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0006841
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number9
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2018




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