Evaluating the program effects of a radio drama about AIDS in Zambia

Stud Fam Plann. 1996 Jul-Aug;27(4):188-203.


This study describes an approach to the analysis of data that is designed to isolate program effects for evaluations and applies that approach to a program in Zambia designed to disseminate AIDS information. Evidence is considered that a radio drama broadcast for nine months had an impact on knowledge and behavior related to AIDS among Bemba speakers in northern Zambia. Using results from large sample surveys (1,600 men and women), conducted before and after the drama was broadcast, the analyses compare changes in knowledge and behavior in those most likely and least likely to have listened to the broadcast. While the population as a whole had improved its knowledge substantially, and some people reported having reduced risky behavior, attributing these changes to the program itself was not possible.

PIP: Sample surveys conducted before and after a radio drama designed to disseminate information about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) revealed substantial improvements in both knowledge and adoption of risk-reduction behaviors; however, these changes could not be causally linked to the program. The 10-episode drama, which was broadcast for 9 months during 1991-92, portrayed two families in Lusaka, Zambia, struggling with issues such as raising teenage children, making ends meet, having sexual relations, and learning about AIDS. For the baseline survey, 1613 adult men and women from the Zambian provinces of Copperbelt and Northern completed a questionnaire about their personal characteristics, use of the mass media, AIDS knowledge, attitudes about condoms, and sexual activity. In the follow-up study, the same questionnaire--with the addition of questions on the broadcast--was administered to 1682 men and women from the same two areas. 664 respondents in the baseline survey and 685 in the follow-up survey both owned a radio and listened one or more times a week (high-access group); the remainder did not own a radio (low-access group). 53% of those in the second survey had heard of the radio drama and 45% had listened, but less than 1/3 were regular listeners. The proportion of respondents who considered AIDS the most serious health problem rose from 7% in 1991 to 23% in 1992; however, the change was nearly identical for high and low-access groups. Condom use increases were moderate. Overall, the high-access group showed more changes in the areas of knowledge of the extended period of infection, willingness to discuss AIDS with spouses and children, and--among women--reductions in number of sex partners and belief in personal vulnerability to AIDS. However, there were no differences within the high-access group between those who listened to the radio drama and those who did not in measures such as general AIDS knowledge and condom use, suggesting that the positive changes reflected other influences (e.g., socioeconomic status).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Drama*
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Program Evaluation* / methods
  • Radio*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners
  • Zambia / epidemiology