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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

The reach and impact of social marketing and reproductive health communication campaigns in Zambia

Ronan Van Rossem1 and Dominique Meekers2*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Sociology, Ghent University, Korte Meer 3, 9000 Gent, Belgium

2 Department of International Health and Development, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 2200, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2007, 7:352  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-352

Published: 18 December 2007



Like many sub-Saharan African countries, Zambia is dealing with major health issues, including HIV/AIDS, family planning, and reproductive health. To address reproductive health problems and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia, several social marketing and health communication programs focusing on reproductive and HIV/AIDS prevention programs are being implemented. This paper describes the reach of these programs and assesses their impact on condom use.


This paper assesses the reach of selected radio and television programs about family planning and HIV/AIDS and of communications about the socially marketed Maximum condoms in Zambia, as well as their impact on condom use, using data from the 2001–2002 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey. To control for self-selection and endogeneity, we use a two-stage regression model to estimate the effect of program exposure on the behavioural outcomes.


Those who were exposed to radio and television programs about family planning and HIV/AIDS were more likely to have ever used a condom (OR = 1.16 for men and 1.06 for women). Men highly exposed to Maximum condoms social marketing communication were more likely than those with low exposure to the program to have ever used a condom (OR = 1.48), and to have used a condom at their last sexual intercourse (OR = 1.23).


Findings suggest that the reproductive health and social marketing campaigns in Zambia reached a large portion of the population and had a significant impact on condom use. The results suggest that future reproductive health communication campaigns that invest in radio programming may be more effective than those investing in television programming, and that future campaigns should seek to increase their impact among women, perhaps by focusing on the specific constrains that prevent females from using condoms.