To document lessons learned from an integrated Micronutrient Survey (MNS) and Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) in Malawi from 2015-2016.
We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 26 individuals who planned and implemented the integrated MNS-DHS survey. We used purposive recruitment to ensure that we captured a diversity of views and interviewed individuals from each of the partner organizations. Interviews were conducted in-person or by telephone and audio recorded. We analyzed the data using thematic analysis to identify key themes related to the benefits, drivers of success, and challenges of an integrated MNS-DHS.
Preliminary findings indicate that an integrated approach increased data collection efficiency, reduced time burden for respondents, and enabled research inquiries into the socio-demographic determinants of micronutrient deficiencies using DHS data. The perceived drivers of success for this integration included investment in coordination activities and regular communication among the sub-teams carrying out the DHS and MNS. A primary challenge was overcoming implementation obstacles (e.g., delays in procuring equipment, lengthy decision-making processes due to the command chain structure) and ensuring the DHS and MNS began and ended simultaneously.
An integrated MNS-DHS was feasible, efficient, and acceptable to respondents in Malawi. Further, the integration of the surveys can help from a research perspective; it provides the opportunity to examine the determinants of micronutrient deficiencies using DHS data. The lessons learned in Malawi can inform other countries on how to best integrate MNS and DHS, which can provide nationally representative nutrition and inflammation biomarkers in the same cycle as DHS.