Academic journal article Journal of Development Communication

Effects Discrimination on Demographic Variables in Health Communication Campaigns

Academic journal article Journal of Development Communication

Effects Discrimination on Demographic Variables in Health Communication Campaigns

Article excerpt

Most human activities are directed towards changing the attitudes and behaviour of other human beings. All mass media are full of numerous efforts to influence the attitudes of the people towards certain objects. But the attitude change is not the objective and the ultimate goal is to get these desired attitudes translated into practices. In the words of Paisley (1982), "communication campaign seems to represent someone's intention to influence someone else's beliefs or behaviour, using communicated appeals." Keeping in view the scope of this definition all commercial advertising and political electioneering also fit this range of action, but as a rule they are not classified as health or public communication campaigns. A distinction can be made on the basis of two criteria:

1. Health communication campaigns are noncommercial and seek to promote individual benefits.

2. Advertising and electioneering campaigns are commercial and seek to promote benefits of the sponsoring agencies.

Health communication campaigns are an integral part public service programmes. A huge number of advertisements in the forms of posters, signboards, and banners alongside the roads, on walls and in busy squires are frequently seen. Mass media of the developed and developing countries give a considerable time and space to these appeals to help the audiences in promoting good health (Chandrakandan, et al., 2001). Health promotion campaigns using mass media is an effective form of persuasion (Stiff, & Mongeau, 2003). In developed societies, CD-ROM, internet and e-health are used to provide access to health care services (Maheu et al., 2001; McLendon, 2000). The main purpose of these noncommercial campaigns is to influence the attitudes of the audience members and persuade them to adopt specific behaviours particularly regarding health. There are communication campaigns for the use of iodised salt, the inoculation of vaccine courses against six fatal diseases commonly found in children, the use of O.R.S. formula during diarrhea and vomiting, energy conservation behaviour, adoption of the small family norm, tree plantation, forest, wildlife protection and literacy. Media campaigns against smoking and drug are also very common in societies like Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Iran and Sri Lanka (Yousafzai & Xiaoming, 2007).

In Pakistan, the sponsoring agencies usually are ministries of health, population welfare, and Narcotics Control Board. These all are government agencies and have taken the responsibility of population and national welfare. These agencies have traditionally opted for different mass media for launching these campaigns. The electronic media have been more frequently used because they are considered relatively more effective and easily accessible. There are many advantages peculiar to print media too but in the case of health campaigns their uses have several limitations like low literacy and access to the rural area. Moreover, these agencies tend to complement the use of various mass media by the use of well trained extension agents. Thus, a good deal of taxpayer money is invested by the government in planning various health campaigns. The nature of these campaigns may be divided into two broad categories: (i) campaigns promoting individual benefits--vaccine course, the use of O.R.S. and iodised salt; (ii) campaigns promoting collective benefits like energy saving and the adoption of family planning. However, at another stage, drawing the lines between the two becomes very difficult as individual and collective benefits overlap each other.

Several studies have been conducted on the impact of mass media on audience behaviour such as media and violence, media and aggression, media and juvenile delinquency, and media and fashion trend, etc. These impacts are the dysfunctions of the use of the media and have never been desired. The nature of this study is totally different from the above ones. …

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