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Health Promot J Austr. 2013 Apr;24(1):13-9. doi: 10.1071/HE12903.

Using rapid assessment and response to operationalise physical activity strategic health communication campaigns in Tonga.

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Communication Partners International, Springfield, Australia.



The aim of the present study was to identify stakeholder and program beneficiary needs and wants in relation to a netball communication strategy in Tonga. In addition, the study aimed to more clearly identify audience segments for targeting of communication campaigns and to identify any barriers or benefits to engaging in the physical activity program.


A rapid assessment and response (RAR) methodology was used. The elicitation research encompassed qualitative fieldwork approaches, including semistructured interviews with key informants and focus group discussions with program beneficiaries. Desk research of secondary data sources supported in-field findings.


A number of potential barriers to behavioural compliance existed, including cultural factors, gender discrimination, socioeconomic factors, stigmatising attitudes, the threat of domestic violence, infrastructure and training issues. Factors contributing to participation in physical activity included the fun and social aspects of the sport, incentives (including career opportunities, highlighting the health benefits of the activity and the provision of religious and cultural sanctions by local leaders towards the increased physical activity of women.


The consultative approach of RAR provided a more in-depth understanding of the need for greater levels of physical activity and opportunities for engagement by all stakeholders. The approach facilitated opportunities for the proposed health behaviours to be realised through the communication strategy. Essential insights for the strategy design were identified from key informants, as well as ensuring future engagement of these stakeholders into the strategy. So what? The expanded use of RAR to inform the design of social marketing interventions is a practical approach to data collection for non-communicable diseases and other health issues in developing countries. The approach allows for the rapid mobilisation of scarce resources for the implementation of more strategic, targeted communication campaigns to support behavioural changes.

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