Implementation of the Road-to-Health-Booklet health promotion messages at primary health care facilities, Western Cape Province, South Africa
Background. Age-specific health promotion messages appear in the Road-to-Health booklet (RtHB), an assessment and monitoring tool for child health in South Africa. Healthcare workers should communicate health promotion messages to caregivers at each clinic visit. This investigation was part of a larger RtHB survey.
Objective. To assess the implementation of health promotion messages and identify barriers to its successful implementation.
Methods. A cross-sectional descriptive study with analytical components was conducted in the Western Cape Province. Knowledge and practices of caregivers and healthcare workers were assessed at 143 randomly selected primary healthcare facilities. Information was obtained through questionnaires, direct observation of consultations and recording of health promotion material in facilities.
Results. In total, 2 442 children (0 - 36 months; mean (standard deviation) age 5.10 (6.24) months), 2 481 caregivers and 270 healthcare workers were included. Caregivers’ educational level varied, with only 24.3% having completed Grade 12. Healthcare workers had a median of 5 (range 0.5 - 37.0) years᾽ work experience in primary healthcare. All healthcare workers indicated that health promotion messages were important, however, messages were only conveyed in 51% of observed consultations. When it was communicated, health promotion messages were age-appropriate in 97% of cases. Barriers to the implementation of health promotion messages hinged on time and staff constraints, workload and language barriers. Various forms of health promotion material were available in facilities.
Conclusions. Suboptimal implementation of the health promotion messages in the RtHB are apparent despite healthcare workers realising the importance of health promotion. Barriers to optimal implementation must be urgently addressed by the National Department of Health and healthcare workers in partnership with caregivers and with support from society to promote child health and care.