Open Access Research article

Evaluating the efficacy of tuberculosis Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilization (ACSM) activities in Pakistan: a cross-sectional study

Tahir Turk12*, Fiona J Newton3, Joshua D Netwon3, Farah Naureen4 and Jodah Bokhari5

Author Affiliations

1 Communication Partners International, 24 Dulwich Road, Springfield 2250, NSW, Australia

2 Curtin University School of Public Health, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth 6845, WA, Australia

3 Department of Marketing, Peninsula Campus, Monash University, Frankston, VIC 3199, Australia

4 MercyCorps (Pakistan), 36, Street 1, Islamabad F-6/3, Pakistan

5 Communications Consultant, Islamabad, Pakistan

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:887  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-887

Published: 25 September 2013



Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a major public health and development problem within many low- and middle-income countries. Although Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilization (ACSM) activities have been undertaken in high TB burden countries to remediate these issues, there is little empirical evidence of the efficacy of these approaches. The purpose of this study was therefore to examine the efficacy of an ACSM program undertaken within Pakistan. Pakistan was chosen because it has received considerable funding for ACSM related activities and is one of 22 high-burden TB countries.


The program was evaluated by surveying a stratified random sample of 2,400 participants across 57 districts of Pakistan. Participants were categorized into one of three groups: aware of both media and community ACSM activities (AwareMedia&Community), aware of ACSM media activities only (AwareMedia), or unaware of any ACSM activities (UnawareMedia&Community).


Independent measures ANCOVA revealed complex differences in knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviors towards TB between the three groups. In general, UnawareMedia&Community cases had a poorer understanding of TB and its treatment, whilst awareness of ACSM activities was highest among literate and urban dwelling Pakistanis. Preferred sources of TB information were also found to vary by gender, geographic location, and literacy.


Whilst highlighting improvements in knowledge and attitudes toward TB, the results also provide invaluable insights into areas where further work needs to be done to address deficits in TB understanding, particularly among rural and illiterate Pakistanis. Equally important, the findings have implications for future TB ACSM initiatives in Pakistan in terms of leveraging the preferred media channels of key demographic segments and exploring the degree to which exposure to multiple channels of communication may have an additive effect on health knowledge.

Tuberculosis; Campaign evaluation; Pakistan; Health communication; Advocacy; Communication and Social Mobilization (ACSM) activities