Background: This study assessed the association of remuneration systems of paid-for-performance Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and salaried Anganwadi workers (AWWs) on seven maternal health outcomes in four states in India: Andhra Pradesh (AP), Chhattisgarh, Odisha (Orissa), and Uttar Pradesh (UP).
Methods: The cross-sectional study surveyed mothers of children aged 6-23 months. A total of 3,455 mothers were selected via multistage cluster sampling. The seven health outcomes related to the community health worker (CHW) visits were: institutional delivery, complete immunization, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, timely introduction of complementary feeding, continued breastfeeding during child’s illness, handwashing, and awareness of Nutrition and Health Days (NHDs).
Results: The results varied by state. Mothers who received ASHA visits were significantly less likely to have an institutional delivery, timely introduction of complementary feeding, awareness of Nutrition and Health Days (NHDs), proper handwashing, and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months in at least one of the four states. Conversely, AWW’s home visits were positively predictive of the following health outcomes in certain states: complete immunization for index child, continued breastfeeding during the child’s illness, handwashing, and awareness of NHDs.
Conclusions: ASHAs’ home visits were not more strongly associated with health outcomes for which they were paid than outcomes for which they were unpaid. AWWs’ home visits were positively associated with awareness of NHDs, and associations varied for other recommended health behaviors. Further research could elucidate the causes for successes and failures of CHW programs in different states of India.