Self‑reported Practices and Attitudes of Community Health Workers (Accredited Social Health Activist) in Tobacco Control – Findings from two states in India

Divya Persai, Rajmohan Panda, Manu Raj Mathur


Background: The 1978 declaration (Alma‑Ata declaration) made at the International Conference on Primary Health Care, meeting in Alma‑Ata highlighted the critical role played
by Community Health Workers (CHWs) to link communities to the health system. The flagship program of Government of India proposed introduction of CHWs namely Accredited Social
Health Activist (ASHA). As a link between community and health system ASHA is in a unique position to generate awareness on tobacco‑related issues. However, there is limited evidence
on practices of ASHAs in tobacco control in India. The present study explores whether CHWs such as ASHAs can be utilized as a resource for informing and educating community on tobacco
and its harmful effects. The study captured perceptions and practices of ASHAs regarding tobacco control.
Methods: The study was a cross‑sectional study conducted among 512 ASHAs in six intervention districts each in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The study settings (i.e., health facilities and villages) were selected through systematic random sampling. The study participants were selected through
simple random sampling. Responses were captured through self‑administered questionnaire. Logistic regression model was applied to measure associations between variables such as
knowledge level of ASHAs and information provided on different tobacco‑related diseases by them in both the states, with statistical significance based on the Chi‑square test.
Results: Our findings indicate that ASHAs linked tobacco usage to diseases such as respiratory problems, lung cancer, tuberculosis, and oral disease. Only one‑third of ASHAs reported informing all patients about the harmful health effects of tobacco, whereas more than half of them reported
providing information only to patients suffering from specific illness. ASHAs who reported having received training in tobacco control were about Two times more likely to give information on
effects of tobacco on respiratory diseases (odds ratio [OR]‑1.5; confidence interval [CI]: 1.1–2.4) and adverse reproductive outcomes (OR‑2.1; CI: 1.1–20.2).
Conclusions: Study findings reflect suboptimal engagement of ASHAs in providing information pertaining to specific tobacco‑related diseases. There is an urgent need to sensitize and train ASHAs in appropriate tobacco control practices.
Keywords: Community health workers, India,
tobacco control

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