Using digital technologies—such as mobile phones, computers, or tablets—to convey information and messages as part of an evidence-based multichannel social and behavior change (SBC) strategy may contribute to promoting, adopting, and maintaining healthy sexual and reproductive behavior. This brief summarizes the current state of evidence in this rapidly changing field. (A companion brief reviews digital applications aimed at supporting providers and health systems.)
People in developed and developing countries are spending more time on digital devices. Smartphone ownership and Internet use are increasing rapidly among adults in most emerging and developing economies, where nearly half the adult population reports owning a smartphone or using the Internet at least occasionally. Digital technologies have the potential to provide accurate information to individuals when and where they need it. Making information available through digital applications may also reduce the time and cost related to seeking or receiving information through more traditional sources, such as print or interpersonal communication.
Use of digital technologies to support healthy sexual and reproductive behaviors is one of several promising “high impact practices in family planning” (HIPs) identified by a technical advisory group of international experts. A promising practice has limited evidence, with more information needed to fully document implementation experience and impact. The advisory group recommends that these interventions be promoted widely, provided they are implemented within the context of research and are carefully evaluated in terms of both impact and process.
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