Students put the four Ps of marketing into practice in Panama

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Research findings were later presented at USF’s 25th Social Marketing Conference

A group of six  USF College of Public Health’s (COPH) graduate students in Dr. Arlene Calvo’s International Health Education course traveled to Las Mañanitas, Panama, to put their practice into passion.

In partnership with Panama’s Ministry of Health, the students were tasked with developing a needed health intervention using the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place and promotion.



Arlene Calvo, PhD (second from left), USF COPH graduate students and Eric Rodriguez (health center staff, pictured second from right) outside the Las Mañanitas Health Center in Panama. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Arlene Calvo)

Students were divided into two groups.

Because vector-borne diseases like Zika and Dengue Fever are rampant in the area, one group of students decided to focus on developing a covered 55-gallon water tank with an adapted spigot (the product) for the storage of clean water. The students ascertained that the top and spigot would cost less than $3 USD (the price), with demonstrations on how to use it held at places like hardware stores and health clinics (the place). Getting word out about the cover and spigot (the promotion) could be handled by the local media and those in the medical community.

The second group set out to help lower rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy among adolescents. They surveyed eighth- and ninth-grade students at a local school and found the students lacked prevention knowledge and self-esteem. The COPH students developed an interactive sexual-health education game modeled after Jeopardy (the product), at no cost to the school (the price). They decided the school was the best place to expand sexual-health knowledge (the place) and that they could get support for the game (the promotion) during health discussions with the school’s staff.

Back home, the students were able to share their findings—via a roundtable discussion and a poster presentation—at USF’s 25th Social Marketing Conference, held in June at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach.


Melissa Miller (in red), who is earning her MPH in public health education, presents findings at a roundtable discussion at USF’s 25th Social Marketing Conference. Recent COPH graduate Kelley Dennings (not pictured) also contributed to the presentation. (Photo by Dennings)


USF COPH graduate students Christopher Washington, Janelle Barrera and Hanna Atenafu with their poster presentation on sexual-health education interventions at the 2018 Social Marketing Conference. (Photo by Dennings)

“Students prepared online and worked one week in Panama,” said Calvo, a professor of community and family health and the students’ faculty leader on the trip. “The experience supplied the community with valuable research and working prototypes applied to real-life settings. Beyond the tangible deliverables provided, the students gained hands-on experience in conducting research and producing a social marketing intervention in an international setting. This was truly an invaluable and beneficial experience for all involved.”

Story by Kelley Dennings, Janelle Barrera, Christopher Washington, Hanna Atenafu, Melissa Miller and Dr. Calvo with Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health