Journal Article

Effects of integrated economic and health interventions with women’s groups on health-related knowledge, behaviours and outcomes in low-income and middle-income countries: A systematic review protocol

Economic groups, such as microfinance or self-help groups are widely implemented in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Women’s groups are voluntary groups, which aim to improve the well-being of members through activities, such as joint savings, credit, livelihoods development and/or health activities. Health interventions are increasingly added on to existing women’s economic groups as a public health intervention for women and their families. Here, we present the protocol for a mixed-methods systematic review we will conduct of the evidence on integrated economic and health interventions on women’s groups to assess whether and how they improve health-related knowledge, behaviour and outcomes in LMICs.

Methods and analysis
We will search seven electronic databases for published literature, along with manual searches and consultation. The review will include (1) randomised trials and non-randomised quasiexperimental studies of intervention effects of integrated economic and health interventions delivered through women’s groups in LMICs, and (2) sibling studies that examine factors related to intervention content, context, implementation processes and costs. We will appraise risk of bias and study quality using standard tools. High and moderate quality studies will be grouped by health domain and synthesised without meta-analysis. Qualitative evidence will be thematically synthesised and integrated into the quantitative synthesis using a matrix approach.

Ethics and dissemination
This protocol was reviewed and deemed exempt by the institutional review board at the American Institutes for Research. Findings will be shared through peer-reviewed publication and disseminated with programme implementers and policymakers engaged with women’s groups.