Participant responses to a water treatment intervention in rural Guatemala

Lissette M. Piedra, Lenore E. Matthew, Chi Fang Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Each year, 1.1 billion people suffer from disease, dehydration, and malnutrition fueled by waterborne pathogens. Although point-of-use water filters are a viable solution, effectiveness requires consistent use. As collaborators in international development projects, social workers are poised to address service barriers through their focus on multilevel practice and a relentless emphasis on culturally competent practice. This article describes an illustrative case of a water remediation project in rural Guatemala where social work researchers collaborated with engineers to understand how users appraised the project. We present a content analysis of interviews conducted in 20 households in the Boca Costa and Highland regions of rural Guatemala that received bio-sand water filters, which revealed a diverse group of filter users, with varying motivations and constancy patterns. Our study demonstrates how talking to people is essential to understanding their use of technology and how other objective measures—such as the wetness of the sand—can be helpful in interpreting results. It also shows that within the developing context, people vary in their need for additional supports as they adopt new health-promoting activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)792-809
Number of pages18
Journalqualitative social work
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Guatemala
  • content analysis
  • international social work
  • water technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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