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The Role of Health Systems and Policy in Producing Behavior and Social Change to Enhance Child Survival and Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: An Examination of the Evidence

Luis F. Vélez, Mary Sanitato, Donna Barry, Martin Alilio, Franklin Apfel, Gloria Coe, Amparo Garcia, Michelle Kaufman, Jonathan Klein, Vesna Kutlesic, Lisa Meadowcroft, Wendy Nilsen, Gael O'Sullivan, Stefan Peterson, Daniel Raiten, Susan Vorkoper


September 16, 2014
Evidence-based behavior change interventions addressing health systems must be identified and disseminated to improve child health outcomes. Studies of the efficacy of such interventions were identified from systematic searches of the published literature. Two hundred twenty-nine of the initially identified references were judged to be relevant and were further reviewed for the quality and strength of the evidence. Studies were eligible if an intervention addressed policy or health systems interventions, measured relevant behavioral or health outcomes (e.g., nutrition, childhood immunization, malaria prevention and treatment), used at least a moderate quality research design, and were implemented in low- or middle-income countries. Policy or systems interventions able to produce behavior change reviewed included media (e.g., mass media, social media), community mobilization, educational programs (for caregivers, communities, or providers), social marketing, opinion leadership, economic incentives (for both caregiver and provider), health systems strengthening/policy/legislation, and others. Recommendations for policy, practice, and research are given based on fairly strong data across the areas of health service delivery, health workforce, health financing, governance and leadership, and research.