BACKGROUND: Malaria transmission is currently resurging in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In addition to intervention coverage, social and cultural factors influence changes in epidemiology of malaria in PNG. This study aimed to better understand the role of human behavior in relation to current malaria control efforts. METHODS: A mixed-method design was used in 2 sites in PNG. In-depth interviews, focus group discussions, cross-sectional malaria indicator survey, and population census were implemented. RESULTS: We identified 7 population groups based on demographics and behavioral patterns with potential relevance to Anopheles exposure. People spend a substantial amount of time outdoors or in semiopen structures. Between 4 pm and 8 am, all types of activities across all groups in both study sites may be exposing individuals to mosquito bites; sleeping under a long-lasting insecticidal net was the exception. The later in the night, the more outdoor presence was concentrated in adult men. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight the potential of outdoor exposure to hamper malaria control as people spend a remarkable amount of time outdoors without protection from mosquitoes. To prevent ongoing transmission, targeting of groups, places, and activities with complementary interventions should consider setting-specific human behaviors in addition to epidemiological and entomological data.
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