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Effective Communication to Improve Maternal Health in Kigoma, Tanzania

Tanzania has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world, and the Kigoma region has one of the highest in the country. To improve maternal health outcomes and reduce risk of death from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications in Kigoma, in 2014 Vital Strategies and the government of Tanzania proposed a mass media campaign to reduce delays in women receiving maternity care in health facilities.

To determine the most effective messaging to achieve the desired social and behavior change objectives, public service announcements with different message topics related to childbirth and variations in message tone were tested in focus groups with key pregnancy decision-makers, including pregnant women and male and female caregivers. This was the first study to systematically examine the influence of message tone in maternal health communication campaigns. Our findings offer governments, public health professionals and other stakeholders an idea of the messaging that works to change attitudes, beliefs and behaviors to encourage delivery in health facilities.