Effective family planning methods are shown to save lives, contribute to gender equality, and boost economic development. Mass media communication campaigns in low- and middle-income countries have been effective in increasing contraceptive use, although the strategies that increase the likelihood of success are unclear. The present study uses meta-analyses to uncover the average effect of media campaigns on family planning behaviors in low- and middle-income countries and to examine the effectiveness of two communication strategies: entertainment-education and advertising/public service announcements. Results indicated that mass media-delivered family planning campaigns have a positive impact on family planning behaviors: d = 0.19, 95% CI [0.15, 0.24] for women (k = 64), d = 0.16, 95% CI [0.11, 0.21] for men (k = 27), and d = 0.20, 95% CI [0.17, 0.23] for an undifferentiated target group of men and women (k = 37). The use of an entertainment-education format, often in addition to campaign advertising messages, was associated with greater campaign success rates for women. Men, however, responded negatively to education-entertainment and positively to campaigns using only advertising and public service announcement formats. Recommendations for future family planning mass media campaigns and academic research opportunities are discussed.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.