Impacts of using the electronic-health education program ‘The Vicious Worm’ for prevention of Taenia solium

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Background: Taenia solium is a zoonotic tapeworm widely distributed across sub-Saharan Africa. Specific health education is regarded as a central element in controlling T. solium. In 2014, an electronic health education tool called ‘The Vicious Worm’, which was concerned with prevention of T. solium was introduced to health and agricultural professionals in Mbeya, Tanzania, an endemic setting. Introduction to ´The Vicious Worm’ of 1.5 hours significantly improved the participants’ knowledge. This study revisited the same study subjects one year later to assess persistence of knowledge regarding T. solium taeniosis/cysticercosis and to assess if the health education had changed work practices for the participants and the public. Methods: The study was conducted in Tanzania between June and August 2015, with a fixed population of health and agricultural professionals recruited from a previous study testing ‘The Vicious Worm’. The study used a test, a questionnaire survey, as well as semi-structured group and individual interviews. Results: The 79 study subjects, all health or agricultural professionals, had within one year relocated from Mbeya to 16 of 21 administrative regions of Tanzania. Sixty-four agreed to participate in the test and 48 to an interview. The test showed significant improvement in knowledge regarding T. solium taeniosis/cysticercosis, compared with the baseline knowledge level of the participants. Interview data found that the participants had used ‘The Vicious Worm’ as an educational tool and applied the knowledge from the program to implement new practices consisting of by-laws and practical workshops on building latrines, pig pens and hand washing stations in their communities. Conclusion: Introduction to ‘The Vicious Worm’ led to changed practices and persistence in knowledge regarding T. solium. Incorporating health education as a specific health intervention tool should be encouraged and implemented at national or programmatic level.




Lauridsen, S., Braae, U. C., Ngowi, H. A., & Johansen, M. V. (2019). Impacts of using the electronic-health education program ‘The Vicious Worm’ for prevention of Taenia solium. Acta Tropica, 193, 18–22.

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