Breakthrough RESEARCH

A Population Council-led consortium aiming to improve healthy behaviors and norms across key global health areas.

The Issue

High-quality services are critical to improved health. However, even when these services exist, broader factors like social norms and belief systems hinder people from accessing those services. Social and behavior change programs raise awareness, reduce misinformation, and address barriers that prevent individuals, families, and communities from practicing health behaviors and seeking health services in a timely fashion. 

The flagship USAID social behavior change research project, Breakthrough RESEARCH—a sister project to Breakthrough ACTION, is providing global and country-level technical leadership in social behavior change advocacy, design, implementation, research, and evaluation.

The Progress

Breakthrough RESEARCH is supporting countries to improve health and development by equipping governments, implementing partners, service delivery organizations, and donors with the data and evidence they need to integrate proven and cost-effective social and behavior change approaches into their programs.  

Working with a range of stakeholders as partners, Breakthrough-RESEARCH aims to improve healthy behaviors and norms across key global health areas, including family planning and reproductive health; HIV/AIDS; maternal, newborn and child health; emerging infectious diseases; and malaria. Although largely focused on health, the project will also support integrated programs and activities in other development sectors, including education, environment, agriculture, food security, humanitarian response, and democracy and governance.

Breakthrough RESEARCH will:

  1. Foster collaboration and shared learning by engaging key stakeholders to establish priorities and identify research gaps to improve social and behavior change programs and approaches.
  2. Ensure social and behavior change programs are based in evidence and what works by using state-of-the-art research and evaluation methods to generate data that can be used to inform real-time program adaptation as well as longer term planning.
  3. Elevate the impact of evidence-based social and behavior change programs by translating existing and newly generated evidence into audience-tailored, action-oriented messages in user-friendly language and accessible print and digital formats.
  4. Put evidence into practice by supporting key stakeholders – USAID Missions, country-based program implementers, service delivery organizations, and more – to promote improved social and behavior change policies and programs.

The Impact

Breakthrough RESEARCH, in tandem with Breakthrough ACTION, will generate an evidence-base for social and behavior change programmers, policymakers, donors, and implementers to effectively improve health and transform lives. 

Principal Investigator

  • Laura Reichenbach Senior Associate & Project Director, Breakthrough-RESEARCH, Washington, DC

Key Staff (10)

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Journal Articles (3)

Research Publications (6)

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Curricula, Toolkits, and Guides (1)