Social marketing as a strategy to reduce unintended adolescent pregnancy
Recent research has shown that 82% of adolescent pregnancies are unintended. Social marketing has potential to reduce unintended adolescent pregnancy but its effectiveness in this area has not been thoroughly evaluated. This article reviews the literature on social marketing and assesses its potential to reduce unintended adolescent pregnancy. We identified five communication principles as relevant to adolescent reproductive health messaging: Countermarketing, making credible and likeable “arguments” for behavior change, use of theory-based models, social modeling and behavioral alternatives, and risk communication when the behavioral choices are clear. We examine studies of social marketing on other health risk behaviors and a case study of a recent campaign to promote parent-child communication about waiting to have sex. Findings suggest that to reduce unintended pregnancy and improve reproductive health outcomes among adolescents, there is a need for targeted prevention messages and social marketing approaches.