Melioidosis, an often fatal infectious disease in Northeast Thailand, is caused by skin inoculation, inhalation or ingestion of the environmental bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei. The major underlying risk factor for melioidosis is diabetes mellitus. Recommendations for melioidosis prevention include using protective gear such as rubber boots and gloves when in direct contact with soil and environmental water, and consuming bottled or boiled water. Only a small proportion of people follow such recommendations.
Nine focus group discussions were conducted to evaluate barriers to adopting recommended preventive behaviours. A total of 76 diabetic patients from northeast Thailand participated in focus group sessions. Barriers to adopting the recommended preventive behaviours and future intervention strategies were identified using two frameworks: the Theoretical Domains Framework and the Behaviour Change Wheel.
Barriers were identified in the following five domains: (i) knowledge, (ii) beliefs about consequences, (iii) intention and goals, (iv) environmental context and resources, and (v) social influence. Of 76 participants, 72 (95%) had never heard of melioidosis. Most participants saw no harm in not adopting recommended preventive behaviours, and perceived rubber boots and gloves to be hot and uncomfortable while working in muddy rice fields. Participants reported that they normally followed the behaviour of friends, family and their community, the majority of whom did not wear boots while working in rice fields and did not boil water before drinking. Eight intervention functions were identified as relevant for the intervention: (i) education, (ii) persuasion, (iii) incentivisation, (iv) coercion, (v) modeling, (vi) environmental restructuring, (vii) training, and (viii) enablement. Participants noted that input from role models in the form of physicians, diabetic clinics, friends and families, and from the government via mass media would be required for them to change their behaviours.
There are numerous barriers to the adoption of behaviours recommended for melioidosis prevention. We recommend that a multifaceted intervention at community and government level is required to achieve the desired behaviour changes.
Melioidosis is a serious infectious disease caused by the Gram-negative environmental saprophyte, Burkholderia pseudomallei. Infection in humans occurs following skin inoculation, inhalation or ingestion. Recommendations for melioidosis prevention include using protective gear such as rubber boots and gloves when in direct contact with soil and environmental water, and consuming bottled or boiled water. Northeast Thailand is a hot spot for melioidosis, but only a small proportion of people follow such recommendations. Here, we evaluated barriers to the adoption of preventive behaviours in diabetics (who are at highest risk for melioidosis), and systematically identified key functions required for future interventions. Our study participants had no knowledge of the disease, believed that there was no harm in not adopting the recommended preventive behaviours, and were not inclined to use boots and gloves while working in muddy rice fields. Participants reported that input from numerous role models (physicians, diabetic clinics, friends and families), and from the government via mass media would be required for them to change their behaviours. We recommend that a multifaceted intervention at community and government level is required to bring about the desired changes.