Using a Human-Centered Design Approach to Determine Consumer Preferences for Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets in Ghana

Publication Year: 2019
Contributing Organisation: Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs
Authors: Sharon Kim, Danielle Piccinini, and * Elorm Mensah
Learning Themes: Global Health

A human-centered design approach, paired with traditional research methods, was used to explore consumer preferences of middle-class Ghanaians for a long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) to be designed for the private-sector retail market.
In March 2017, we conducted 9 focus groups with urban and rural middle-class Ghanaians across Ashanti, Greater Accra, and Western regions. A total of 78 participants (51 adults and 27 boarding school students) were involved in the focus groups. Participants were asked for their input on topics related to malaria prevention, LLIN perceptions and use behavior, as well as general consumer preferences related to the home and bedroom. They participated in a variety of exercises, such as rank ordering their preferences of various accessories that might be bundled with an LLIN and interacting with actual LLINs of different sizes and designs. The data were gathered and analyzed, using micro-interlocutor analysis framework to capture emergent themes.
LLINs are currently available through free distribution channels, but in most accounts, participants reported that the nets were inconvenient, uncomfortable, and not aesthetically pleasing, thus they were undesirable to use. For example, several participants described the process of hanging as well as entering and exiting the LLIN as challenging, stressful, and/or tedious. In addition, use of LLINs was considered to make people feel even hotter in an already warm climate as well as to leave users feeling confined within a small space.
Finally, many participants discussed how to improve the look of LLINs including suggestions for additional colors, shapes, and hanging mechanisms to make the LLINs more compatible with their desired bedroom and home décor. Based on the participants’ responses, we concluded that they would prefer LLINs that better reflect contemporary sensibilities. We devised and tested different LLIN attributes to address these points, focusing on a more convenient way to hang the net, a more attractive silhouette, and a zipper that allows the user to enter and exit with ease while still maintaining a sealed, mosquito-free space. A separate discrete choice experiment confirmed the attractiveness of these attributes by capturing the target population’s willingness to pay for LLINs with said preference-congruent attributes.

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