Background: Educational film is a communication tool that helps to present complex information simply and clearly, keeping audiences interested for longer and helping to reinforce important learning. Medical Aid Films produces educational films targeted at communities and health workers, with a focus on maternal and child health (MCH) content. Pilot work suggests that film screenings have attracted male as well as female viewers and have started to increase male involvement in MCH care. We explored stakeholder perspectives and gender-specific responses to educational films screened in a rural district of Serenje, Zambia.
Methods: A qualitative study using focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with men and women who had viewed the films at least once, and key informant interviews with health workers who helped deliver the film screenings. Thematic framework analysis was used to derive themes and subthemes, and illustrative quotes are used to substantiate interpretation of the findings.
Results: Men's and women's perspectives are clustered around the influence of the films on knowledge and behavior in relation to MCH topics and male involvement and overall community responses to the films. The three themes summarizing key informant perspectives relate to their impressions of the influence of the films on male involvement in MCH and their views on using film to deliver heath information.
Conclusion: Educational films have the potential to improve women's and men's knowledge and awareness of MCH topics, including healthy nutrition and welfare of women during pregnancy, the need to seek skilled care during pregnancy and for childbirth, and the importance of male involvement in supporting the care of women and children. Before widespread implementation, decisions must be made about whether and how to integrate the films with community health education programs, the needs, values, and preferences of men and women and how to present and deliver the film content in a way that maximizes participation of men and women in MCH but does not undermine women's rights, autonomy, or safety.
Keywords: child health; educational film; health education; male involvement; maternal health; outreach services.