Core health-components, contextual factors and program elements of community-based interventions in Southeast Asia


An article entitled “Core health-components, contextual factors and program elements of community-based interventions in Southeast Asia – a realist synthesis regarding hypertension and diabetes” by SUNI-SEA researchers was published in BMC Public Health, October 2021.


In Southeast Asia, diabetes and hypertension are on the rise and have become major causes of death. Community-based interventions can achieve the required behavioural change for better prevention. SUNI-SEA team conducted a review aiming to assess the core health-components of community-based interventions and to assess which contextual factors and program elements affect their impact in Southeast Asia.

A realist review was conducted, combining empirical evidence with theoretical understanding. Documents published between 2009 and 2019 were systematically searched in PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Google Scholar and PsycINFO and local databases. Documents were included if they reported on community-based interventions aimed at hypertension and/or diabetes in Southeast Asian context; and had a health-related outcome; and/or described contextual factors and/or program elements.

We retrieved 67 scientific documents and 12 grey literature documents. We identified twelve core health-components: community health workers, family support, educational activities, comprehensive programs, physical exercise, telehealth, peer support, empowerment, activities to achieve self-efficacy, lifestyle advice, activities aimed at establishing trust, and storytelling. In addition, we found ten contextual factors and program elements that may affect the impact: implementation problems, organized in groups, cultural sensitivity, synergy, access, family health/worker support, gender, involvement of stakeholders, and referral and education services when giving lifestyle advice.

We identified a considerable number of core health-components, contextual influences and program elements of community-based interventions to improve diabetes and hypertension prevention. The main innovative outcomes were, that telehealth can substitute primary healthcare in rural areas, storytelling is a useful context-adaptable component, and comprehensive interventions can improve health-related outcomes. This extends the understanding of promising core health-components, including which elements and in what Southeast Asian context.