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    Communication research and family planning.


    [Unpublished] 1972 Sep 20. 32 p. (COM/72/CONF.32-A/3)

    This paper describes the nature and current status of family planning communication research, focusing on knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) surveys; proposing some types of needed research; and analyzing the common problems of inadequate research utilization. The discussion's theme is that communication research offers the potential for providing eventual solutions to some of the problems currently impeding family planning programs in less developed countries. In the past, with few exceptions, family planning communication research has been unimaginative, repetitious, and irrelevant. Communication research provides a feedback function to program administrators about various inputs to the family planning program. This type of research also can provide a "feedforward" function by allowing sources of communication messages to better know their audiences and hence how to reach them more effectively. Communication research is itself a special kind of communication, providing a linkage between client audiences and agency officials. 1 of the best of the KAP studies and 1 which had a particularly laudatory effect of later research in family planning communication is the Taichung Study of Twaiwan Study in the early 1960s. The Taichung study data showed the importance of interpersonal channels and the 2 step flow of communication. It should be noted that the Taiwan Study was a field experiment rather than a survey. A typical field experiment begun in 1970 in Isfahan Province, Iran consisted of the following experimental treatments: an intensive mass media communication campaign that promote a family planning slogan "2 or 3 children is better; the loop and pill are safe;" the recruitment of various types of nonfamily planning change agents and aides recruited to promote family planning with their clients; and home visits by family planning field workers in a rural and an urban district of about 20,000 population. The main measures of the communication treatment efforts are changes in knowledge, attitude, and practice, which were measured by surveys prior to and after the campaigns. Most important are changes in rate of adoption, which seem to have increased by about 64%. In addition to the Isfahan Project numerous field experiments on family planning communication have been conducted in Jamaica, India, Korea, and Thailand since the Taichung Study in the early 1960s. Several conclusions, such as the following, may be generally considered from these experiments: home visits to clients by paraprofessional field workers are 1 of the most effective communication strategies to secure the adoption of family planning methods; and mass media alone can create widespread awareness and knowledge of a family planning innovation. KAP studies have all the methodological problems of any other type of survey research as well as some special problems that arise from the taboo nature of family planning. Yet, in the few cases where adequate evidence is available, KAP studies do not fare too badily on reliability, especially in an aggregate sense.
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