Campbell Collaboration Colloquium 2014: The Social Marketing Evidence Base


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PSI presented the two posters above about the Social Marketing Evidence Base (SMEB) at the Campbell Collaboration Colloquium at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 16-19, 2014.

1. The Social Marketing Evidence Base: A Web-Based Systematic Review Evaluating the Effectiveness of Social Marketing in Global Health

Population Services International (PSI) is a social marketing NGO working in global health. Social marketing uses marketing concepts to sell subsidized products through commercial sector outlets, distribute products for free, deliver health services through social franchises, and promote behaviors not dependent upon a product or service.

PSI is often challenged to demonstrate the effectiveness of this strategy for health behavior change. In response, PSI created the Social Marketing Evidence Base (SMEB), a systematic review of studies evaluating the effectiveness of social marketing in low and middle-income countries in health areas of HIV, tuberculosis, reproductive health, malaria, and child survival.

We searched PubMed, PsychInfo, and ProQuest, using search terms linking social marketing and health outcomes, for studies published from 1995 to 2013. Studies eligible for inclusion in the review had to provide sufficient information on the intervention evaluated to be scored using Social Marketing Benchmark Criteria from the National Social Marketing Centre. Eligible studies had to measure outcomes of behavioral determinants, health behaviors, and/or health outcomes in each health area, and each included study was graded with a six-point Strength of the Evidence score adapted from the Cochrane Handbook.

After reviewing 6,523 records, 109 studies met our inclusion criteria. Across the five health areas, 71 studies reported on changes in behavioral determinants. 82 studies reported on changes in behaviors, and we found 31 studies reporting health outcomes. Eligible studies discussed both positive and null effects of social marketing programs. No studies on childhood pneumonia were identified and only two eligible studies reported on tuberculosis outcomes. Effective programs were found to seek insight into their consumers and the market, in addition to targeting segments of the population most likely to change.

The Social Marketing Evidence Base website has been made publicly available as a resource for implementers, donors, and policymakers seeking to understand the effectiveness of social marketing. Finding from this review can be used to support decisions on investments in new global health programs and scaling up effective practices. The review also identified key evidence gaps in social marketing. Across all disease areas, few studies met the highest score on strength of the evidence, highlighting the need for further investment in rigorous evaluation of social marketing programs.

2. Using Design to Communicate Systematic Review Findings to Global Development Practitioners

Evidence-based practice is of increasing interest in global development, and systematic reviews are an important tool in identifying effective interventions. However, systematic review methodologies are still relatively unfamiliar in development, and a culture of evidence use is nascent. Encouraging development practitioners to understand and use results from systematic reviews as part of the evidence cycle is a key task in knowledge translation. One challenge is in locating strategies to package results in a manner quickly understood by non-researchers. Graphic and web design, including data visualization methods, are important tools for overcoming this challenge.

We conducted a systematic review to assess the effectiveness of social marketing interventions in low and middle-income countries for achieving health behavior change on behalf of Population Services International, a social marketing NGO. To communicate our findings to practitioners, we created an infographic that summarized the systematic review. We used the infographic to link to a web-based resource that we developed to showcase detailed methodology and results.

The infographic was designed to help researchers and practitioners communicate with policy-makers about the effectiveness of social marketing in global health and the quality of the evidence base. It summarized the review’s methodology and provided recommendations on how review findings could be used by practitioners. The infographic enabled us to summarize findings from 109 eligible peer-reviewed studies into a format that is visually engaging, easy to understand, and portable. The website, titled the Social Marketing Evidence Base and hosted on PSI’s corporate website, provides logic models used to structure the review for each area of health behavior change assessed, offers key findings, summarizes each study included in the review, and describes the review’s methodology.

Results and Discussion
Preliminary website analytics indicate that users come directly to the Social Marketing Evidence Base through search engines, rather than navigating from the PSI home page. Users spend several minutes reading results, more than the average amount of time spent on other pages of PSI’s website. Use of these tools has demonstrated that existing social marketing practitioners are most interested in how to make social marketing effective for health behavior change. Additional analysis of website and infographic use is still needed. In global development, design tools, including data visualization, can increase the use of research findings for decision making and program design.