Edward Frongillo:

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Adult; Breast Feeding (psychology, statistics & numerical data); Community Health Services (economics, organization & administration); Cost-Benefit Analysis; Cross-Sectional Studies; Feeding Behavior (psychology); Female; Humans; Infant; Infant, Newborn; Male; Models, Organizational; Mothers (psychology, statistics & numerical data); Rural Population (statistics & numerical data); Self-Help Groups; Vietnam



Poor access to healthcare facilities and consequently nutrition counseling services hinders the uptake of recommended infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices. To address these barriers and improve IYCF practices, Alive & Thrive (A&T) initiated community support groups in remote villages across nine provinces in Vietnam.


This study examines the effectiveness of the support group model and related project costs for reaching underserved areas to improve IYCF practices.


To evaluate the model’s implementation and project costs, we reviewed implementation guidelines, expenditure and coverage reports, monitoring data, and budgets for the nine provinces. To evaluate the model’s effectiveness, we used a 3-stage sampling method to conduct a cross-sectional survey from April to May 2014 in three provinces entailing interviewing mothers of children aged 0–23 months in communes with (intervention; n = 551) and without support groups (comparison; n = 559).


Coverage: From November 2011 to November 2014, in partnership with the government, A&T supported training for 1513 facilitators and the establishing 801 IYCF support groups in 267 villages across nine provinces. During this period, facilitators provided ~ 166,000 meeting/support contacts with ~ 33,000 pregnant women and mothers with children aged 0–23 months in intervention villages. Costs: The average project costs for supporting the meetings, compensating village collaborators, and providing supportive supervision through staff in commune health stations were USD 5 per client and USD 1 per contact. After adding expenditures for training, supportive supervision, and additional administrative costs at central and provincial levels, the average project cost was USD 15 per client and USD 3 per contact. Effectiveness: Survey participants in intervention and comparison communes had similar maternal, child, and household characteristics. Multiple logistic regression models showed that living in intervention communes was associated with higher odds of early initiation of breastfeeding (OR: 1.7; 95% CI: 1.1, 2.7), exclusive breastfeeding from 0 to 5 months (OR: 12.5; 95% CI: 6.7, 23.4), no bottle feeding (OR: 2.69; 95% CI: 1.82, 3.99), and minimum acceptable diet (OR: 1.51; 95% CI: 0.98, 2.33) compared to those living in comparison communes.


The IYCF support group model was effective in reaching populations residing in remote areas and likely contributed to improved IYCF practices. The study suggests that the model could be scaled up to promote equity in breastfeeding support.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


© The Author(s). 2021 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

APA Citation

Nguyen, T., Hajeebhoy, N., Li, J., Do, C., Mathisen, R., & Frongillo, E. (2021). Community support model on breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in remote areas in Vietnam: implementation, cost, and effectiveness. International Journal For Equity In Health, 20(1).