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Designing a behavioral intervention using the COM-B model and the theoretical domains framework to promote gas stove use in rural Guatemala: a formative research study



Three billion people use solid cooking fuels, and 4 million people die from household air pollution annually. Shifting households to clean fuels, like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), may protect health only if stoves are consistently used. Few studies have used an implementation science framework to systematically assess "de-implementation" of traditional stoves, and none have done so with pregnant women who are more likely to adopt new behaviors. We evaluated an introduced LPG stove coupled with a phased behavioral intervention to encourage exclusive gas stove use among pregnant women in rural Guatemala.


We enrolled 50 women at < 20 weeks gestation in this prospective cohort study. All women received a free 3-burner LPG stove and ten tank refills. We conducted formative research using COM-B Model and Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF). This included thematic analysis of focus group findings and classes delivered to 25 pregnant women (Phase 1). In Phase 2, we complemented classes with a home-based tailored behavioral intervention with a different group of 25 pregnant women. We mapped 35 TDF constructs onto survey questions. To evaluate stove use, we placed temperature sensors on wood and gas stoves and estimated fraction of stove use three times during pregnancy and twice during the first month after infant birth.


Class attendance rates were above 92%. We discussed feasible ways to reduce HAP exposure, proper stove use, maintenance and safety. We addressed food preferences, ease of cooking and time savings through cooking demonstrations. In Phase 2, the COM-B framework revealed that other household members needed to be involved if the gas stove was to be consistently used. Social identity and empowerment were key in decisions about stove repairs and LPG tank refills. The seven intervention functions included training, education, persuasion, incentivization, modelling, enablement and environmental restructuring. Wood stove use dropped upon introduction of the gas stove from 6.4 h to 1.9 h.


This is the first study using the COM-B Model to develop a behavioral intervention that promotes household-level sustained use of LPG stoves. This study lays the groundwork for a future LPG stove intervention trial coupled with a behavioral change intervention.

Trial registration

NCT02812914, registered 3 June 2016, retrospectively registered.

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