By: Jenny Tolep, External Relations & Communications
“I never imagined my life could be any different,” said Salma Begum, when referring to her family size. Salma grew up like most of the women in her area, married young and by her thirties she was raising 11 sons. She didn’t know there was a way to plan her family size.
Salma’s entire perspective changed after a PSI staff member knocked on her door and talked to her about family planning. Afterwards, Salma encouraged her daughter-in-laws to use a modern method of contraception, and now six of them use an intrauterine device (IUD).
PSI uses many channels to reach people with the information and communications they need to make their health decisions. From television and radio to billboards and print ads to direct community outreach or one-on-one conversations, PSI uses the channels that best reach the people it serves. For Salma, it was interpersonal communication. The staff member who taught Salma about her family planning options was an interpersonal communicator, or IPC. IPC work in the communities where the people they want to reach are, and educate them through direct conversations and face-to-face interactions. This method works particularly well with groups of people who have little exposure to mass media and with groups that are highly stigmatized, such as sex workers or injecting drug users.
Within PSI programs, a variety of behavior change activities are implemented using interpersonal communication strategies. Some of these activities include youth peer education to promote condom usage, one-on-one outreach with female sex workers to encourage HIV testing and group workshops on partner reduction for men who have sex with men. Along with changing behaviors through various interpersonal communication activities, PSI aims to increase the knowledge and health literacy among these vulnerable populations.
PSI regularly evaluates the impact of these activities on key risk behaviors, and have found interpersonal communication strategies to be successful in encouraging healthy behavior. For Salma and her family it made all the difference.
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