© 2009 Virginia Lamprecht, Courtesy of Photoshare

Health is created through the interplay of biology and the social determinants that shape human interaction.  These social determinants include factors such as knowledge, attitudes, norms and cultural practices. Social and behavior change communication programs (SBCC) use the most powerful and fundamental human interaction – communication – to positively influence these social dimensions of health and well-being.

In this context communication goes beyond the delivery of a simple message or slogan to encompass the full range of ways in which people individually and collectively convey meaning. Among the powerful tools employed by SBCC programs are mass media, community-level activities, interpersonal communication, information and communication technologies, and new media.

Research consistently shows evidence-based communication programs can increase knowledge, shift attitudes and cultural norms and produce changes in a wide variety of behaviors. SBCC has proven effective in several health areas, such as increasing the use of family planning methods, preventing HIV and AIDS, reducing the spread of malaria and other infectious diseases, and improving newborn and maternal health.