American Evaluation Association
October 16-19, 2013
Presenter: Shilpa Modi
Title: The Social Marketing Evidence Base: A Web-Based Resource on Social Marketing Effectiveness in Global Health
Authors: Shilpa Modi, Rebecca Firestone, Graham Smith, Kim Longfield
Population Services International (PSI) is one of the largest social marketing agencies in the world but is challenged to demonstrate the effectiveness of its strategies for achieving health improvements in low- and middle-income countries. In response, PSI created the Social Marketing Evidence Base (SMEB), a web-based database of systematically reviewed literature on the effectiveness of social marketing in HIV/STIs, tuberculosis, reproductive health, malaria, and child survival. Eligible studies, identified via systematic review, were assessed using Social Marketing Benchmark Criteria from the National Social Marketing Centre and a six-point Strength of Evidence framework adapted from the Cochrane Handbook. The SMEB rates the effectiveness of social marketing interventions by the strength of evaluation evidence and highlights key areas where further evaluation is needed. As a publicly available database, it is a resource for implementers, donors, and policymakers seeking to understand the effectiveness of social marketing for achieving health promotion and behavior change.
PSI and several other global health agencies use commodity social marketing and service delivery (“social franchising”) to encourage healthy behaviors, increase health impact, and make markets work for the poor. Like many international NGOs, PSI is frequently challenged to demonstrate the effectiveness of its overall intervention strategy – social marketing – along with the impact of individual programs. The Social Marketing Evidence Base (SMEB) is a resource developed by PSI to systematically identify and compile relevant evaluation findings from peer-reviewed and grey literature on the countries and health areas where PSI operates. The methodology used to create the SMEB, including search terms, eligibility criteria and rating scores, is made transparent and publicly available. This will allow global health agencies, including implementers, donors, and policy makers to make independent assessments of the strength of the evidence base on social marketing as a strategy to achieve health promotion, behavior change, and improvement of health outcomes.
The SMEB identifies evidence of social marketing and social franchising leading to changes in intermediate behavioral factors, such as improvements in the target audiences’ opportunity, ability, and motivation to adopt healthy behavior; changes in behaviors; and changes in health outcomes in the five health areas. The SMEB also identifies gaps in the evidence base to inform where additional evaluations are needed. While there are a number of studies evaluating social marketing in the areas of reproductive health and HIV/STIs, few studies were available on interventions that qualified as social marketing programs for malaria and child survival. Across all health areas, comparatively few studies met the highest strength of the evidence score. This poses a challenge for agencies trying to launch, scale up, or improve social marketing interventions as well as donors interested in funding programs, but highlights the need for further investment in rigorous evaluation of social marketing programs.
The systematic review to develop the SMEB also demonstrates how the National Social Marketing Centre’s Social Marketing Benchmark Criteria can be used as an evaluation tool for social marketing programs. The benchmark criteria — behavior, customer orientation, theory, insight, exchange, competition, segmentation, and method mix — help distinguish social marketing interventions from communication campaigns and other interventions that only cover certain components of more comprehensive social marketing strategies. Use of the criteria enables comparison of interventions against a common set of expectations for effective social marketing programs.
The SMEB can be used to influence decisions about: investments in new programs, scaling up successful programs, and forecasting outcomes and gains in efficiency by focusing investments on interventions that are proven effective. The SMEB itself also demonstrates the value of designing and disseminating rigorous evaluations of social marketing programs in order to contribute to broader policy decisions on the contributions of social marketing in low and middle-income countries.
- Populations Served
- General Population
- Health Areas
- Child Health, Contraception, Diarrheal Disease, HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections, Malaria, Maternal Health, Nutrition, Pneumonia, Respiratory Illness, Tuberculosis
- Developing Markets, Franchising for Health, Marketing Products and Services
- Resource Types