Note: All words included here are defined within the context of SBCC programming, and explain a term’s meaning and use within this I-Kit.


The stage of life occurring between the ages of 10 and 19 years of age, when a male or female becomes an adolescent. During this life phase, adolescents undergo a number of biological, psychological and social changes. It is a stage of experimentation with decision-making, risk-taking and independence, particularly regarding sexual and romantic relationships. During this experimental life stage, adolescents start to develop their identity and may try out behaviors that may become lifelong habits.


According to the World Health Organization, adolescents are those aged between 10 and 19 years. Males and females are sometimes referred to as “younger adolescents” between the ages of 10 and 14, and “older adolescents” between the ages of 15 and 19.


In SBCC programming, this generally refers to the way people think or feel about the behavior being addressed. See also the definition for KAB.


The population or group of people who will receive an intervention. See also “intended audience,” “primary audience” and “secondary audience.”


In SBCC, this refers to actions someone makes repeatedly enough to form a habit, a disposition and a behavior toward a person or thing. See also the definition for KAB.

Behavior Change Communication (BCC)

The use of a range of tested communication principles and methods for altering unhealthy patterns of behavior and promote healthy ones. It originates in the field of public health and the methods and theories guiding its practice are borrowed from a range of disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, management, consumer behavior and marketing. The terms, BCC and SBCC, are often used interchangeably as they refer to similar or the same approaches. Also see definition of SBCC.

Call to Action

What you want your intended audience to do. Often, this will identify an action your audience can take in order to start changing their behavior. For example, “use condoms every time you have sex,” “talk to your health care provider,” or ”go to the Bright Star Clinic for more information.”

Creative Brief

A one- or two-page document that provides creative developers (i.e., advertising agencies, script writers and graphic designers) with a clear, concise understanding of your project and their role within it. The brief should include guidance on your project’s intended audience, desired behavior, barriers to engaging in the desired behavior, desired key messages, the message(s) tone and desired communication channels. This will help with message dissemination. A creative brief should also include a call to action and a key benefit.

Communication Channel

The method or medium used to transmit a message to an intended audience. Examples of communication channels include radio, television, print media, electronic media, word of mouth, interpersonal communication, and visual arts and entertainment.

Community-based Approaches

A communication channel category that focuses on reaching people within a certain geographic area, or people with common interests or characteristics. Community-based approaches are often interactive. They involve gathering large numbers of people and mobilizing a prioritized community to participate. Examples include street theater, puppet shows, games, concerts (music, art, dance) and mobile video events.


Studies of and information about a population based on factors, such as age, race, sex, marital status, parity, economic status, education level, income level and employment among others.

Focus Group

A planned discussion typically comprised of 7 to 12 people who may be unfamiliar with each other, but who are selected because they have certain interests, experiences or characteristics in common.

Focus Group Discussion

A form of qualitative research in which a focus group is brought together by a moderator to explore one or more topical questions. The moderator leads the discussion in order to gain information about a specific issue.


The goal of a program, or “program goal,” is the expected outcome resulting from an intervention or program. Usually, goals are reached by achieving specific objectives (see definition of objective).

In-depth Interview

A qualitative research technique that involves conducting intensive individual interviews with a small number of respondents to explore their perspectives on a particular issue, idea, program or situation. In-depth interviews are useful to obtain detailed information about a person’s thoughts and behaviors, and they are generally used to provide context and complement data obtained from other sources.


A variable used to measure a current situation and any change or progress toward objectives over time. Indicators should be valid and measure what they intend to measure, reliable and produce accurate results when used more than once, and sensitive by reflecting changes as they occur during your study.

Intended Audience

Refers to the group of people or population segment you hope to reach with an intervention. This may include members of primary and secondary audiences.

Interpersonal Communication

A communication channel category that focuses on relaying messages to an intended audience through personal interactions. Interpersonal communication activities may be done one-on-one, in small groups, large groups, or as a forum. They may be delivered in-person, over the phone or via social media. They may be carried out by health providers, peers and near-peers, community health workers, pharmacists, teachers or anyone seen as a reliable, relevant and approachable reference person.

Key Benefit

An important positive outcome your intended audience will get from engaging in a desired behavior their behavior. The key benefit should make sense to your intended audience. For example, a key benefit for a young person to use condoms could be to stay healthy and achieve his/her dreams. Telling a young person that using a condom every time will keep their community healthy is not enough of a motivation for a young person.

Key Message

Important information that you want to convey to an intended audience. This message should be clear and carefully worded to make sense to your priority audience. It should include a key benefit and a call to action. One program might have more than one key message, and key messages within one program may differ between primary and secondary audiences.


In SBCC programs, this often means what someone knows about a given subject or object. This knowledge may impact a person’s attitudes or behaviors. Education activities are aimed exclusively at increasing a person’s or group’s information about a given thing or topic. See also the definition for “knowledge, attitudes and behaviors” (KAB).

Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors (KAB)

In SBCC programs, knowledge is defined as what your priority audience knows, or information your audience uses to make their own informed decisions. Attitudes may be defined as opinions or feelings toward something, and are often influenced by social and cultural norms. Knowledge and attitudes together impact or result in behaviors, or actions taken by an individual. For example, an individual may have the knowledge that condoms are important in preventing unplanned pregnancies and the spread of HIV and other STIs. He or she may know where to get condoms and how to use them. However, his/her attitude toward condoms might be unfavorable because they personally feel that condoms make sex unpleasurable and signify a lack of trust in a relationship. Therefore, the individual’s behavior may be to not use condoms with his/her regular sexual partner, despite knowing their benefits.

Lead channel

The main channel used in your intervention. Most of the information is passed through the lead channel, which is likely to have the greatest reach.


An acronym standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning. It refers to people who do not define themselves as heterosexual (Lesbian, Gay), are attracted to both men and women (Bisexual), do not identify with their biological sex (Transgender) or who are still questioning their sexuality (Questioning).


Describes something that is accepted as very familiar or normal. Mainstreaming is the process of making something new or taboo become more widely discussed, accepted and normal.

Mass Media

A category of communication channels that reaches a large audience at once. Examples include television, radio, newspaper, magazine and outdoor/transit related placements (such as billboards or ads on busses or taxis).

Media Consumption

The sum of information and entertainment media taken in by an individual or group of individuals. It includes activities, such as reading books, magazines and other print media, watching television, listening to the radio and even interacting with new media (websites, blogs, social media, etc.). Media consumption studies include research and statistics that measure the interaction with different types of media among a defined population.


Information to be conveyed to or shared with an intended audience. A message should be clear, positive, concise and make sense to its audience. See also the definition for “key message.”

(Use of) Mobile Phones

Using mobile phones is a health communication channel category. This includes relaying messages to, or having conversations, with an intended audience via SMS technology. Using mobile phones allows information to reach large audiences (e.g., anyone using a specific mobile service carrier) or highly specific audiences (e.g., female who recently visited a clinic for family planning services). Mobile phones with Internet access can also be used for social media outreach.


People who are close to the priority group’s social and professional level, and who are respected and admired by the target groups. They are not necessarily of the same age and can be effective in communication with the target group to promote behavior change.


The expected result following a specific action. When applied to programming, an objective is the expected result of a specific activity. Clear project objectives employ the SMART acronym – Specific about the result to be achieved, complete with Measurable indicators. The projected change should be realistically Achievable for the intended audience, Relevant to your program’s goal(s), your organization and its resources. The objective should also be Time-bound and include a timeline for achievement of the objective.

Primary Audience

Refers to the population or group of people whose behaviors will be changed through the intervention.

Print Materials

A category of communication channels that reaches intended audiences through written words or illustrations. Examples of print materials include paper-based materials such as fliers, pamphlets/brochures, fact sheets, posters and cards.


The study of or information relating the psychological variable of population groups, such as personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, lifestyle, tastes and aspirations.

Qualitative Research

Explorative research that aims to understand the underlying reasons, opinions and motivations of a particular group around a given subject. It provides insight into a problem and helps detail and explain the point of view of a selected group. This research approach relies on words rather than numbers. Common qualitative data collection methods include interviews, focus group discussions and observations. For example, qualitative research would be used to discover why adolescents use injectable contraceptives and condoms instead of implants or IUDs.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research provides numbers and figures to quantify a problem, such as attitudes, behaviors, beliefs or other defined variables. It is generally conducted with large groups of people to make sure that results are statistically representative. Common quantitative research methods include surveys and censuses. For example, quantitative research would be used to discover how many adolescents use injectable contraceptives and condoms, compared to implants or IUDs.

Secondary Audience

Refers to the population or group of people that interacts with and influences a primary audience. Interventions involve secondary audiences to promote the desired behavior change in the primary audience and to help create a supportive environment for the primary audiences to make this desired change(s).


The process of dividing a large population into smaller sub-groups in order to design more effective programs and messages.

Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH)

A state of physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to human reproduction and the reproductive system. It implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, and have the right, the capability and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to reproduce. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships.

Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC)

Like BCC, SBCC is the strategic use of a combination of tested communication principles and methods to promote healthy patters of decision making and behavior. The word “social” in the term indicates that this approach also addresses social norms and the social and cultural context to facilitate change. The terms, SBCC and BCC, are often used interchangeably as they refer to similar or the same approaches. Also see definition of BCC.

Social Media

A category of communication channels that uses Internet-based application to encourage social interaction among individuals and groups of people. Social media allows people to create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Examples of social media include technology that lets people publish, converse or share content online, such as blogs or microblogs (e.g., Twitter), photographs or pictures (e.g., Instagram), social networks (e.g., Facebook, MXit, Badoo) and video (e.g., YouTube).

Social Media Metrics

The science of measuring the use of social media to determine the impact it is having.

Social Marketing

The application of commercial marketing principles to influence voluntary behaviors of the target audience and improve personal and societal welfare.

Supporting channels

Other channels of communication that are used in an intervention in addition to a lead communication channel. The aim of supporting channels is to reinforce messages by increasing the likelihood that audiences will hear them more often and through a variety of channels.


A classification of a city-based living environment. Individuals living in a city are also referred to as “urban” (e.g., urban adolescents). Urban environments generally have more infrastructure and services, bring together people from a variety of experiences, ethnicities and backgrounds and have larger populations than non-urban or rural areas.

Young Person / Young People

The World Health Organization defines young people as those aged between 10 and 24 for years.


According to the World Health Organization, youth refers to those aged 15 to 24 years.