Gender and performance of community treatment assistants in Tanzania.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of gender and demographics of community treatment assistants (CTAs) on their performance of assigned tasks and quantity of speech during mass drug administration of azithromycin for trachoma in rural Tanzania.
DESIGN: Surveys of CTAs and audio recordings of interactions between CTAs and villagers during drug distribution.
SETTING: Mass drug administration program in rural Kongwa district.
PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-seven randomly selected CTAs, and 3122 residents of villages receiving azithromycin as part of the Kongwa Trachoma Project.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Speech quantity graded by Roter interaction analysis system, presence of culturally appropriate greeting and education on facial hygiene for trachoma prevention from coded analysis of audio-recorded interactions.
RESULTS: At sites with all female CTAs, each CTA spent more time and spoke more in each interaction in comparison with CTAs at sites with only male CTAs and CTAs at 'mixed gender' sites (sites with both male and female CTAs). At 'mixed gender' sites, males spoke significantly more than females. Female CTAs mentioned trachoma prevention with facial cleanliness more than twice as often as male CTAs; however, both genders mentioned hygiene in <10% of interactions. Both genders had culturally appropriate greetings in <25% of interactions.
CONCLUSIONS: Gender dynamics affect the amount of time that CTAs spend with villagers during drug distribution, and the relative amount of speech when both genders work together. Both genders are not meeting expectations for trachoma prevention education and greeting villagers, and novel training methods are necessary.