OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between condom social marketing programmes and condom use.
METHODS: Standard systematic review and meta-analysis methods were followed. The review included studies of interventions in which condoms were sold, in which a local brand name(s) was developed for condoms, and in which condoms were marketed through a promotional campaign to increase sales. A definition of intervention was developed and standard inclusion criteria were followed in selecting studies. Data were extracted from each eligible study, and a meta-analysis of the results was carried out.
FINDINGS: Six studies with a combined sample size of 23 048 met the inclusion criteria. One was conducted in India and five in sub-Saharan Africa. All studies were cross-sectional or serial cross-sectional. Three studies had a comparison group, although all lacked equivalence in sociodemographic characteristics across study arms. All studies randomly selected participants for assessments, although none randomly assigned participants to intervention arms. The random-effects pooled odds ratio for condom use was 2.01 (95% confidence interval, CI: 1.42–2.84) for the most recent sexual encounter and 2.10 (95% CI: 1.51–2.91) for a composite of all condom use outcomes. Tests for heterogeneity yielded significant results for both meta-analyses.
CONCLUSION: The evidence base for the effect of condom social marketing on condom use is small because few rigorous studies have been conducted. Meta-analyses showed a positive and statistically significant effect on increasing condom use, and all individual studies showed positive trends. The cumulative effect of condom social marketing over multiple years could be substantial. We strongly encourage more evaluations of these programmes with study designs of high rigour.