Using behavioral design for immunizations, child health, & more

Social & Behavior Change to Improve Health

Around the world, different people and organizations work to expand access to and use of essential health services so more people can live healthy, productive lives. When it comes to long-term wellness, human behavior stands out as an area that can create positive change at scale.

That’s why ideas42 has joined two initiatives, Breakthrough ACTION and Breakthrough RESEARCH, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s flagship investment in social and behavior change (SBC). Spanning five years, from 2018 and 2022, the shared objective is to increase the practices of healthy behaviors in the areas of family planning and reproductive health; maternal, newborn and child health; HIV/AIDS; and malaria. As the only organization partnered on both programs, ideas42 joined a Breakthrough ACTION consortium led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and including Save the Children, ThinkAction, and Camber Collective; as well as a Breakthrough RESEARCH consortium led by Population Council and including Tulane University, Population Reference Bureau, Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University, and Avenir Health.

Breakthrough ACTION

Breakthrough ACTION is charged with forging, testing, and scaling up new and hybrid SBC approaches worldwide. From using modern contraceptive methods and sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets to being tested and adhering to treatment for HIV, Breakthrough ACTION aims to leverage innovative approaches from marketing science, behavioral economics, and human-centered design to ignite collective action and encourage people to adopt healthier behaviors in partnership with governments, civil society, and local communities.

As the lead behavioral economics partner in the consortium, ideas42 brings to bear cutting-edge insights from the latest research into judgment and decision-making across a range of countries and priority health areas. In Malawi, for example, we are working in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and the local USAID mission to develop strategies that expand access to and uptake of modern contraceptive methods by changing the behavior of service providers in primary health care facilities. In Zambia, we are applying an integrated methodology to address barriers to adolescent family planning use, HIV testing, condom use, timely care-seeking for children under five, appropriate complementary feeding of children under two, and correct and consistent insecticide-treated net use.

Breakthrough RESEARCH

Breakthrough RESEARCH will catalyze social and behavior change by conducting state-of-the-art research and evaluation and promoting evidence-based solutions to improve health and development programs around the world. It will generate evidence to address SBC research and evaluation needs across a range of health issues—family planning and reproductive health; HIV/AIDS; maternal, newborn and child health; nutrition; emerging infectious diseases; malaria; tuberculosis—with attention to cross-cutting topics such as gender equality and youth empowerment.

ideas42’s first project is focused on health providers and their compliance to best practices during delivery in Zambia. Some of the leading causes of maternal and neonatal mortality, including hemorrhage, infection, and asphyxia, are avoidable with closer compliance with good clinical practices by health providers.  Furthermore, the provision of respectful maternal care, which includes the absence of verbal and physical abuse among other practices,  is not only a human rights issue but has also been linked with health outcomes. Our work will focus on exploring the behavioral challenges that impede health providers from providing quality care to women during delivery, and then design cost-effective, innovative solutions.

We’re also just launching a new engagement focused on tuberculosis in the Philippines. A recent prevalence study showed that the Philippines now has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis in the world. This partnership seeks to generate evidence explaining care-seeking behaviors of TB patients with particular attention to the role of stigma. Research will be used to generate new solutions which can be implemented through other USAID investments.

We’re invigorated by this concerted effort and investment in promoting healthy behaviors across the globe, and we look forward to sharing updates from the initiatives through 2022. Stay tuned for results and insights about using behavioral science to help more people around the world use essential health services.

Interested in our work applying behavioral science to global health? Email or tweet at @ideas42 to join the conversation.