The primary objective of IEC (information, education, and communication) efforts for the Standard Days Method® (SDM) is to ensure that women and couples make an informed choice about their family planning options. Because the SDM is suitable for a wide range of users, (e.g. literate, non literate, urban, rural, non-users of family planning, users of periodic abstinence, etc) IEC materials must be tailored to the audience and setting in which the method will be provided. Ideally, the SDM should be integrated into existing family planning and reproductive health IEC materials. In addition, because it is a new method and most potential clients may not have heard of the method, developing some materials dedicated exclusively to inform them about the SDM also may be appropriate.
Key actions for integrating the SDM into IEC efforts:
Determine target audiences for IEC efforts.
A first step in developing IEC materials should be to identify the target audience(s) you want to reach with SDM information. The characteristics of the audience (e.g. literate, non-literate, urban, rural, etc.) will help define the best strategies for reaching them as well as the kinds of materials which will be most appropriate.
Decide on approaches for providing information on the SDM.
Numerous approaches can be considered for information the target audience. They include print materials for women and couples in the clinic or community, group information sessions in the clinic or community, videos for waiting rooms, posters for the clinic or community, street theater, and radio or TV. The determination of the best approach comes from knowing the characteristics of the population to be reached as well as knowing the best ways to inform these groups.
Assess existing SDM materials and consider adapting them for informational and educational activities, as appropriate.
A wide variety of materials on the SDM have been developed in different languages. Most of these materials are appropriate for both literate and low-literacy populations, can be reproduced very inexpensively and are available in print and electronically. Program planners may be able to use these materials "as is" or they may need to adapt them to meet their specific programmatic needs.
Determine how best to include information on the SDM in existing counseling and educational materials for providers and clients.
SDM can be added to an organization's existing materials for family planning counseling that address all methods. Sometimes adaptations of SDM-specific provider job aids and materials will be needed. It may not be feasible to incorporate SDM into all existing materials immediately, they should be incorporated as materials, protocols and guidelines are revised, updated and reprinted.
Test new SDM materials among key target audiences.
New materials developed for the SDM should be tested among the program's primary target audience to ensure that key messages are understood. The tests may involve a one-on-one situation where potential users are asked to review the materials and answer a series of questions, or they may involve a group setting such as focus groups. Since prototype materials have been widely tested with a variety of audiences, simple exercises may be sufficient to test visuals and the selected language when adaptations are being considered. It is also important to give service providers an opportunity to review and comment on SDM materials before they are finalized.
Determine strategies for disseminating information on the SDM.
Interpersonal communication and word-of-mouth are important strategies for increasing awareness and acceptance of the SDM. Community- and clinic-based programs can incorporate information on the SDM into existing outreach programs, such as using community-based promoters to provide information on the SDM during home visits or community talks. One-on-one communication can be most effective, especially in rural settings, and SDM can be incorporated into local parish programs for pre-marital counseling. In clinic programs, awareness can be raised among women seeking family planning services through existing clinic education efforts. A variety of strategies can also be used for the general population including mass media and radio campaigns, street theater, TV spots, print advertisements, and information in magazines and professional journals. Information can also be provided during community activities such as health fairs, home visits and through volunteers and health workers.
Document the planned IEC activities.
It is helpful to document planned activities including what they are, who (individuals or groups) who will carry them out, when they will be conducted, and the SDM-related information that will be provided. Consideration should also be given to monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of IEC activities.