Most sexual health promotion programmes for young people focus on individual behaviour change, implying that this behaviour is largely volitional and shaped by individual perceptions. Community-wide interventions aim to modify everyone’s norms and behaviours, including the most powerful in society, not just young people who have little influence. Behaviours that put people at risk are often driven by underlying structural factors. If these remain unchanged, there is limited scope for changes of knowledge, norms, intentions or skills at the individual level to have much effect. Interventions that involve the target communities in determining their own priorities for change, and how to go about it, build on people’s existing motivations and thus have a far greater chance of long-term sustainability. Examples of such interventions are mentioned, and the issues that need to be addressed in evaluating them are discussed.
Programme for Research and Capacity Building in Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV in Developing Countries research briefing no. 6, July 2010. 4 pp.