Community participation and multidimensional child growth: evidence from the Vietnam Young Lives study

Gonzalez Martinez, R.; Wells, J.; Anand, P.; Bergeron, G.; Pelto, G.; Dhansay, A. and Haisma, H. (2022). Community participation and multidimensional child growth: evidence from the Vietnam Young Lives study. Current Developments in Nutrition, 6(4), article no. 6004005.



Background: Community participation has the potential to improve the effects of interventions and reduce inequalities in child growth. Multidimensional indicators capture such effects and inequalities.

Objective: The objective of this study was to measure the association between multidimensional child growth and community participation in two nutrition-sensitive interventions.

Methods: A multidimensional index of child growth (MICG) was calculated with the 5-years-old cohort of the Vietnam Young Lives survey. Young Lives is a unique dataset that has information on community participation in the design and implementation stages of two interventions: a health and a WASH intervention. Community participation during the interventions was recorded retrospectively with interviews at household level. Ordinary least squares and quantile regressions were estimated using data of 240 children. A multidimensional index of child advantage (MICA), sex, and location (urban/rural) were included as control covariates.

Results: A positive association (post-hoc statistical power = 0.859) was estimated for community participation during the design stage of the WASH intervention, particularly for the most deprived children (p-value < 0.05). Negative effects were estimated for the health intervention during the design stage (p-value < 0.05) and no significant effects were found for community participation during the implementation stage of the interventions. Instead of the physical dimension, the significant associations in the design stage were related to the non-physical dimension of child growth. Inequalities in multidimensional growth were found for children living in rural areas, but not for female children.

Conclusions: The association between community participation and multi-dimensional child growth is indicative of the importance of community participation during the design phase of interventions, in particular for the non-physical dimensions of child growth related to social and psychological factors. The benefits of participation were greater for urban children compared to rural children, which deserves further attention.

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