Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is rarely practiced despite its significant child survival benefits. A key constraint to increasing EBF rates in Zimbabwe and most of the developing world is that key decision makers (fathers/partners and other family members) are often poorly informed about EBF and do not attend antenatal clinics where health information is routinely provided. Informed by formative research, a district-wide campaign was conducted in rural Zimbabwe to encourage EBF and expressing and heat treating (EHT) breast milk as a means to maintain EBF. The campaign combined traditional strategies of education, counselling and outreach through health service delivery with a novel road show 'edutainment' intervention to reach men and other community members. A post campaign evaluation measured the association of road show exposure with 20 knowledge items and summative scores of social norms, beliefs and attitudes obtained through exploratory factor analysis. In adjusted models, road show exposure was associated with correct EBF knowledge (β=1.0, 0.001), EHT knowledge (β=1.3, P<0.001) and greater perceived benefits of condom use during pregnancy and breastfeeding (β=0.5, P<0.001), and more positive EBF social norms (β=0.6, P<0.001), EBF beliefs and attitudes (β=1.0, P<0.001) and attitudes towards condom use during breastfeeding (β=0.6, P<0.001). Road show exposure was more strongly associated with EBF knowledge among men (P-value for gender×exposure group interaction=0.03), suggesting that it also closed the knowledge gap between men and women. Longitudinal studies will determine whether road shows were associated with changes in EBF practices.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.