Humans tell stories. We tell stories to entertain, to teach, to justify – whatever the purpose, stories engage us in the moment and tend to stick with us later on.
At Digital Medic, we use story-based entertainment education to leverage this natural narrative inclination and share stories that promote healthy behaviors.
Our 100% Breastfed video series was developed to raise awareness and improve knowledge around the practice of breastfeeding in South Africa. The series is available through YouTube as well as the Digital Medic app, which allows learners to download the content and view offline. Frontline health workers have used the app-based content to learn how to better communicate important breastfeeding messages to the families they serve.
Through the promotion of our content by Liezel Engelbrecht, a Digital Medic ambassador and dietician based at New Somerset Hospital, peer counsellors (PCs) from the Southern Western (SW) Substructure of the Department of Health recently began using our 100% Breastfed content. La Leche League South Africa, a non-profit volunteer organization that provides information, encouragement, and support to breastfeeding mothers, trains the PCs who support and inform mothers in local government clinics.
Around the same time, lecturers from the Division of Human Nutrition, Department of Global Health at Stellenbosch University decided to have their final year BSc Dietetic students utilize the same breastfeeding content as part of their internship in Community Nutrition. Their goal was to expand students’ exposure in applying another source of media to promote learning of knowledge, attitudes, or skills in the community.
We provided the PCs from the SW Substructure and final year Dietetic students with tablets loaded with 14 infant and young child feeding videos. The videos offer messages on breastfeeding benefits, challenges, and best practices in a story-based format that is available in Afrikaans, isiXhosa, and English. We encouraged them to use the videos as tools to assist in their conversations with mothers and caregivers in however manner they saw fit.
After three months of piloting the content, we conducted informal focus group discussions with the PCs and dietetic interns. We wanted to understand their experience using the tablets and whether the intervention was well-adopted and integrated into their workload.
Showing the videos diffused the initial apprehension experienced by patients and encouraged discussions.
We were excited to hear that the group’s overall experience with the tablets was positive. The video content was used regularly in counseling sessions and reportedly diffused the initial apprehension experienced by patients when interacting with healthcare workers, leading to more engagement and discussions. The videos bridged the language barrier between the patient and counselor and were relatable, positive, and understandable, particularly when watched in the patient’s preferred language.
What could be improved? A bigger screen, such as a TV, with higher volume was desired for engaging with big groups, as tablets were most useful when working with small groups and during one-on-one sessions. Additionally, there was an initial fear of using technology and an added logistical chore to ensure that devices were fully charged every day.
Overall, the entertainment education supplied by the 100% Breastfed series was well-received and well-integrated into the routines of the PCs and interns.
We are grateful to the SW group of Peer Counsellors and Stellenbosch University’s final year Dietetic students for using our content and allowing us to study this adoption of our videos. Thank you to all of our collaborators and supporters involved with the 100% Breastfed campaign.