Lights! Camera! Action! Promoting Family Planning with TV, Video, and Film

 The use of television, videotape, and film entertainment to promote family planning messages or services has proven to be an effective, efficient approach in developing countries.  For example, a televised vasectomy promotion spot in Brazil increased the number of vasectomies performed at the featured clinics by 80%.  240,000 women in Turkey are estimated to have adopted or switched to modern methods of contraception as a result of humorous spots, dramas, motivational, and documentary programs on television.  Over 150,000 Filipino youths have called a sexual responsibility hotline promoted in television videos featuring musical stars.  Research has found that mass media is most likely to change behavior when it is targeted at a specific audience, comes from a credible source, provides a personally relevant and engaging message, and is coordinated with locally available services.  As with any type of communication campaign, use of the mass media requires careful planning, audience research, message development, pretesting, dissemination strategy, evaluation, and coordination with existing services.  Linking mass media approaches with interpersonal communication can have a multiplicative effect on family planning acceptance, as can use of a combination of print and broadcast media.  The case studies included in this document--from Latin america and the Caribbean, Asia, Near Asia and North Africa, and Africa--document the value of the emerging enter-educate concept.   In past decades, the focus of family planning communication programs has been on creating awareness and generating approval.  The task for the 1990s is to make family planning a household word, a community norm, and an informed individual choice--all of which can be achieved through greater use of television, video, and film.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,Center for Communication Programs,Population Information Program