The importance of socio-economic context for social marketing models for improving reproductive health: evidence from 555 years of program experience

BMC Public Health. 2005 Jan 27;5:10. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-5-10.


Background: Over the past two decades, social marketing programs have become an important element of the national family planning and HIV prevention strategy in several developing countries. As yet, there has not been any comprehensive empirical assessment to determine which of several social marketing models is most effective for a given socio-economic context. Such an assessment is urgently needed to inform the design of future social marketing programs, and to avoid that programs are designed using an ineffective model.

Methods: This study addresses this issue using a database of annual statistics about reproductive health oriented social marketing programs in over 70 countries. In total, the database covers 555 years of program experience with social marketing programs that distribute and promote the use of oral contraceptives and condoms. Specifically, our analysis assesses to what extent the model used by different reproductive health social marketing programs has varied across different socio-economic contexts. We then use random effects regression to test in which socio-economic context each of the models is most successful at increasing use of socially marketed oral contraceptives and condoms.

Results: The results show that there has been a tendency to design reproductive health social marketing program with a management structure that matches the local context. However, the evidence also shows that this has not always been the case. While socio-economic context clearly influences the effectiveness of some of the social marketing models, program maturity and the size of the target population appear equally important.

Conclusions: To maximize the effectiveness of future social marketing programs, it is essential that more effort is devoted to ensuring that such programs are designed using the model or approach that is most suitable for the local context.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Databases, Factual
  • Family Planning Services / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Health Care Sector
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Organizational*
  • Organizations
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Reproductive Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Social Marketing*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*