Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Water resources, Environmental sciences, Public and environmental health

Publication Details

Science of the Total Environment 716


Groundwater contamination constitutes a significant health risk for private well users residing in rural areas. As the responsibility to safeguard rural private domestic groundwater typically rests with non-expert homeowners, interventions promoting risk mitigation and awareness represent the most viable means of preventing supply contamination. However, no global review or pooled analyses of these interventions has been undertaken to date. The current study sought to identify and quantify the performance of private well interventions from 1990 to 2018 via a global systematised review and pooled analysis. The PICO (Population-Intervention-Comparison-Outcome) approach was employed for literature identification. Relevant studies were statistically analysed across two quantitative outcome (performance) types, namely knowledge and behaviour, controlling for intervention characteristics and country development status. Mean behavioural and knowledge attainment across interventions was 53% and 48%, respectively, with interventions in economically developed regions exhibiting higher behavioural outcomes (56% vs. 45%) than those in developing regions. Geographically, interventions were located in southern or southeast Asia (n = 23), North America (n = 15), Central America (n = 1) and Africa (n = 1), with none identified in Australia/Oceania, Europe, or South America. Behavioural outcomes were significantly associated with presence of educational/research coordinator (p = 0.023), with these interventions attaining higher levels of efficacy (+74%) than those implemented by other coordinator types. Findings indicate that instructor-led, practical interventions allied with both large- and local-scale awareness-raising campaigns represent an optimum approach for future private well risk interventions. Subsequent adoption of such interventions may lead to increased levels of private well maintenance and provide a point of reference for myriad water and health communication contexts.