You all must be aware of Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) tool which is an interactive process with communities to develop tailored messages and approaches using a variety of communication channels to develop positive behaviors; promote and sustain individual, community and societal behavior change; and maintain appropriate behaviors. Many Governmental agencies, NGOs and health agencies have, in fact, use various BCC interventions to improve people’s health and wellbeing including family planning and reproductive health, maternal and child health, prevention of infectious diseases and often fight against stigmatization of HIV patients.
Behaviour Change Communication is an effective intervention in bringing about these positive changes and has become an integral component of any developmental program. But let us find out what exactly is BCC exactly and what are some of its underlying principles.
Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) definition: Behaviour Change Communication is researched-based, involves interaction with individuals and communities, and customizes messages catering to the needs of a specific target audience. The messages are then disseminated through the various channels of communication such as the interpersonal, group and mass media to bring about changes in behaviour regarding specific problems and to achieve desired positive results.
Principles of Behaviour Change Communication
An effective BCC campaign for behaviour change and positive health outcome in the individual and community level requires an efficacious strategy and planning. This, in turn, calls for an extensive focus on the primary guiding principles of BCC which we’ll discuss under.
Research and assessment: The first step to a successful Behaviour Change Communication program is doing an extensive research and assessment about the target audience and their needs which help us identify the issues to be addressed, the severity of the problems, issues that may hinder changes, and knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the target audience. This is also the stage where we decide the message and the medium for dissemination to the specific target groups.
Design and strategy: Design and strategy are the pillars in a BCC program as they help define the project's objectives and ways to achieve them, apart from fostering implementation, monitoring, and evaluation plans. Designing and strategy for an effective behaviour change communication should be specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic and time-bound.
Developing BCC materials: The messages should be tailored catering to the needs of the target audience. It should be done keeping in mind the target audiences’ unawareness about their harmful behaviours, and conveyed in such a way that they evaluate their own behaviour for change. The messages should be concise, easy to understand, and delivered in a manner that it directly applies to them and their behaviour.
Pretesting: Once the Behaviour Change Communication materials and the messages are all set, pre-testing should be done for its effectiveness and motivation for change. To do so, conduct design workshops involving key stakeholders, field workers, and members of the intended audience. Then conduct a test to determine if the products meet the needs of the audience, the message is clear and easy to remember and socially and culturally appropriate.
Implementation and Monitoring: Implementation involves the distribution of materials, solving problems, and training key players with the necessary skills for handling the project. Monitoring is about tracking existing statistics related to the targeted behaviour, tracking outputs to ensure that materials are utilized as planned with desired effects, and tracking the reaction of the target audience to ensure that they are motivated by the materials to change their behaviour.
Evaluation and Feedback: After every stage of implementation, evaluation should be done on the development and progress being made. This evaluation will help us understand whether the materials have assisted in achieving the desired change in terms of knowledge, attitude, and behaviour in the target audience. It will also help us identify the lessons learned, where our program is weak and needs revision, and where it is strong and should be replicated.
Feedbacks from the target groups and stakeholders are absolute necessities as based on these feedbacks, new sets of knowledge can be incorporated into the participant’s lives thus laying the foundation for new sets of behaviour.
To top off, a successful BCC program requires extensive participation of the target population and stakeholders in all its stages of development and implementation, especially in the designing stage. The support of the government, health agencies, law enforcement, community leaders and active participation of the target participants is key to running a successful BCC campaign. And this support is especially vital for promoting and sustenance of new behaviour as an individual gradually contemplates, prepares, takes action and maintains the newly acquired behaviour.
This gradual change is not fixed as the individuals may relapse at any stage, thus calling for constant support. An individual needs a supportive environment for maintaining and sustaining positive changes. This can be done by reducing environmental conditions that support negative behaviours and increasing the conditions that support positive or desired results.
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