In July 2009, I noted a study concluding that Brazil’s telenovelas have inspired both a drop in birth rate and rise in divorce. Via the Communication Initiative Network, I found a a few other items on soap operas and public health:
- A German report looks at TV soap operas in Kyrgyzstan, the Dominican Republic, and Côte d’Ivoire as vehicles for HIV/AIDS education.
- A radio soap opera in Vietnam reached millions of farmers changing their attitudes and practices managing rice pests, fertilisers, and seeds.
- Authors of a 2006 paper on a radio soap opera in Bihar, India document how it spurred fundamental, sustainable shifts in people’s values and beliefs.
- A May 2008 Master’s thesis looks at the effect of two Ethiopian radio dramas on attitutde towards reproductive health and spousal abuse.
- Fans of a radio drama in Sudan learned about, or were reinforced in, the importance of abandoning female circumcision, giving girls more control of their reproductive health, having a small family, and staying away from drugs and alcohol.
And though I couldn’t find a study on its impact, straphangers in New York City may remember Julio and Marisol: Decision, an episodic comic strip soap opera dealing with AIDS that ran in English and Spanish in NYC subway cars from 1989 through 2001.