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CASE STUDY:Entertainment-Education Projects
Program Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation / 2013-present

  Project U

We're currently working on three very exciting entertainment-education projects. Entertainment-education is a process of creating and implementing an entertainment program to increase knowledge, change attitudes, and change behaviors among a target audience regarding a social or health issue. To date, entertainment-education programs have been systematically evaluated across a variety of topics and demonstrated effective at changing a wide range of behaviors both in the US and internationally. For instance, Safe in the City, a waiting room video intervention, was found to reduce STD infections by 10% in a randomized controlled trial. Because this program was highly effective and works simply by having patients watch the video in the waiting room, it was replicated at hundreds of clinics and has reached tens of thousands of adults very cost effectively.

Multiple studies have found that pro-social messages embedded in entertainment programs can influence viewers’ awareness, attitudes, and behaviors. What makes entertainment-education powerful is that pro-health messages are a central component of the production yet there is no compromise in terms of entertainment. This approach capitalizes on the entertainment value to draw audiences into the storylines and characters who deliver health messages and model healthy behaviors. Entertainment-education incorporates Social Cognitive Theory and other theories to explain how people learn new behaviors from vicariously experiencing the actions of others. 

Sentient Research Entertainment-Education Projects

Taking care of meIn 2013, Sentient Research was awarded a contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to replicate Safe in the City for HIV clinic waiting rooms and evaluate its effectiveness. The goal of the project is to improve outcomes along the HIV care continuum for several different target audiences living with HIV, including Black and Latino gay and bisexual men, and Black women. We used a very iterative process to plan and create the video, involving multiple stakeholders and target audience members to help write the script. The 29-minute video, Taking Care of Me, has three inter-related stories, and two animated sequences. We will pilot tested the video in two HIV clinics and over 2,000 clinic patients from 2016 to 2017. Among patients exposed to the video, there was an overall 10% increase in treatment initiation and 6% improvement in viral suppression.


Plan ABeginning in 2015, we were hired to produce a new entertainment-education video intervention to reduce unplanned pregnancies and STDs among older adolescents (women age 18-19). This project is being funded by the Office of Adolescent Health in an effort to increase the number of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention interventions (Rigorous Evaluation of New or Innovative Approaches to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (Tier 2B)). There are currently few interventions for older adolescents, even though this population is at disproportionate risk of unplanned pregnancies and STDs. To produce Plan A, we assembled a team of adolescent health experts, reproductive health clinic staff, and a script writer from the hit TV show East Los High. We worked very closely with the target audience throughout the process, beginning with focus groups in Philadelphia and Fresno and then by forming a review panel of target audience members who provided ongoing feedback throughout the script writing and production process. Several review panel members even made a cameo on the video. We conducted two studies of Plan and found very high acceptability among young women ages 16-19 of diverse race/ethnicities. Plan A is currently being evaluated in a 4-year randomized controlled trial.

Plan A is available for purchase. For more information, contact:
Aaron Plant

Our most recent project involves working with the Population Media Center (PMC) on a very exciting new entertainment-education program to promote family planning among adolescents and young adults in Mexico. This program will include an entire season of episodes that will air on television nationally. We began our work with PMC by conducting a situation assessment of Mexico's population growth trends, unintended pregnancies, and contraception use. Then we organized meetings with key stakeholders in NGOs and government agencies as well as production companies to gather additional information on current resources, select a production company, and form an advisory committee for the project. Next we will be conducting formative research including a series of focus groups and key informant interviews to inform the development of the overall story and characters for the production. Moving forward we will work with producers to translate formative research results into realistic and entertaining story lines that address family planning issues and social determinants, organize regular meetings with the advisory committee for feedback on the project as it unfolds, and develop and implement an evaluation plan to assess the impact of the entertainment-education program.






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