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Breakthrough RESEARCH

Breakthrough RESEARCH accelerates social and behavior change (SBC) by conducting state-of-the-art research and evaluation and promoting evidence-based solutions to improve health and development programs around the world.

USAID, Population Council

The Challenge

SBC is an evidence-based, theory-driven process that uses communication to identify and address behavioral determinants, and positively influence individual and collective behaviors to improve health outcomes. Despite evidence that SBC approaches can be effective in improving a wide variety of health-related indicators, SBC interventions often do not receive as much attention or support as other types of interventions. This challenge is illustrated by the relatively weak attention to SBC approaches in family planning programs.

Breakthrough RESEARCH (B-R) is the United States Agency for International Development’s flagship project for SBC research and evaluation. Led by the Population Council, B-R identifies key evidence gaps and research agendas for SBC and conducts research to equip governments, implementing partners, service delivery organizations, and donors with the data and evidence they need to integrate proven and cost-effective social and behavior change approaches into their programs.

Our Approach

B-R’s key activities include identifying information gaps, building consensus around priority agendas, and carrying out innovative SBC research and evaluation across a range of health and development issues, from reproductive health to Zika to agriculture to humanitarian assistance.
As a key partner on the project, PRB’s primary role is to provide leadership and guidance on research utilization, ensuring that the high-quality evidence generated by the project is used for decisionmaking that can lead to practical, on-the-ground changes and improvements in service delivery and implementation.

B-R works in close collaboration with Breakthrough ACTION (B-A), its sister project, led by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs. B-R complement B-A’s SBC programs by providing the data and evidence needed to catalyze the power of SBC to improve priority health behaviors and enable positive social norm change.