Creating culturally-informed protocols for a stunting intervention using a situated values-based approach (WeValue InSitu): a double case study in Indonesia and Senegal

Annabel J. Chapman, Chike C. Ebido, Rahel Neh Tening, Yanyan Huang, Ndèye Marième Sougou, Risatianti Kolopaking, Amadou H Diallo, Rita Anggorowati, Fatou Binetou Dial, Jessica Massonnie, Mahsa Firoozmand, Cheikh El Hadji Abdoulaye Niang, Marie Harder

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International development work involves external partners bringing expertise, resources, and management for local interventions in LMICs, but there is often a gap in understandings of relevant local shared values. There is a widespread need to better design interventions which accommodate relevant elements of local culture, as emphasised by recent discussions in global health research regarding neo-colonialism. One recent innovation is the concept of producing ‘cultural protocols’ to precede and guide community engagement or intervention design, but without suggestions for generating them. This study explores and demonstrates the potential of an approach taken from another field, named WeValue InSitu, to generate local culturally-informed protocols. WeValue InSitu engages stakeholder groups in meaning-making processes which ‘crystallize’ their envelope of local shared values, making them communicable to outsiders.

Our research context is understanding and reducing child stunting, including developing interventions, carried out at the Senegal and Indonesia sites of the UKRI GCRF Action Against Stunting Hub. Each national research team involves eight health disciplines from micro-nutrition to epigenetics, and extensive collection of samples and questionnaires. Local culturally-informed protocols would be generally valuable to pre-inform engagement and intervention designs. Here we explore generating them by immediately following the group WeValue InSitu crystallization process with specialised focus group discussions exploring: what local life practices potentially have significant influence on the environments affecting child stunting, and which cultural elements do they highlight as relevant. The discussions will be framed by the shared values, and reveal linkages to them. In this study, stakeholder groups like fathers, mothers, teachers, market traders, administrators, farmers and health workers were recruited, totalling 83 participants across 20 groups. Themes found relevant for a culturally-informed protocol for locally-acceptable food interventions included: specific gender roles; social hierarchies; health service access challenges; traditional beliefs around malnutrition; and attitudes to accepting outside help. The concept of a grounded culturally-informed protocol, and the use of WeValue InSitu to generate it, has thus been demonstrated here. Future work to scope out the advantages and limitations compared to deductive culture studies, and to using other formative research methods would now be useful.
Original languageEnglish
Article number987
Number of pages18
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2024


  • Health intervention
  • Stunting
  • Shared values
  • Culturally-informed protocol
  • Cultural factors
  • WeValue InSitu

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