Cutting through the confusion: Prioritizing behavioral messages and calls to action

Written by: Alice Payne Merritt, CCP Deputy Director, Breakthrough ACTION

When Zika first appeared in Brazil and spread quickly through the Americas, dozens of governments and partners grappled with how to help families protect themselves from the mosquito that transmits Zika, as well as dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever.

Organizations and country governments leaped into action to provide Zika awareness and prevention information. However, with few opportunities to coordinate, over 30 behaviors ended up being promoted. Such a large number of behaviors, coupled with potentially contradictory messaging, could confuse the public and hinder social and behavior change (SBC) efforts. Families might wonder where to focus their attention and efforts to prevent Zika in the home. It was imperative for SBC partners to “speak with one voice” and promote a harmonized set of behaviors to increase the likelihood that these behaviors were adopted correctly.

To focus prevention efforts, USAID and SBC partners worked to develop a shorter, common set of behaviors with the greatest potential to reduce Zika transmission. The resulting Zika Prevention Matrix prioritized the most promising evidence-based prevention behaviors.

Behavior prioritization can strengthen SBC efforts and, ultimately, empower families to implement prevention behaviors. In the newest Trending Topic from the Compass, you can find tools and program examples of behavior prioritization used in the recent Zika response as well as examples of the prioritization of strategies/programming from other health areas.

We invite you to add your own project materials or favorite tools by visiting the upload page. If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Compass.