A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF HEALTH INFORMATION, EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION (IEC) HANDBILLS AND POSTERS
This study is designed to examine how effectively Hospital posters in Abuja communicate health message. In other words it looks into whether the posters are designed in a way the audiences understands them. It also explores the strategy employed to design health posters and billboards.
Since the major concern of the research is to know how effectively the billboards transmit the intended message towards the respondents, 100 respondents are randomly selected as research participants. Questionnaire is used as a major data-gathering instrument. Besides, to substantiate the study hospitals’ communication planners and programme officers are purposively selected. Interview is conducted with hospitals’ communication planners and programme. Accordingly, the data gathered is analyzed by using different methods of data analysis, like: descriptive approach for qualitative data and using frequency and percentage for quantitative data.
The result shows that unsuccessful message transmission of Hospital posters is related significantly with inadequate skill of message designing proficiency of hospitals’s communication planners. Generally, it is noted that the target audience have not participated in message designing and in the decision process, which contributes for unsuccessful message transmission. This result of the study, therefore, proves unsuccessful communication flow through Hospital posters.
KEYWORD: A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF HEALTH INFORMATION, EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION (IEC) HANDBILLS AND POSTERS
BACKGROUND TO STUDY
The exhibit from the world’s largest collection of public heath posters housed in
the National Library of Medicine (United States) reveals the potential of posters as effective medium for communicating information about disease, identifying risk factors, and promoting behavioral change. By examining the history and function of public health posters, the exhibit suggests that social, biological, and cultural factors have collectively influenced the design of public health campaigns throughout the preceding century (Boyle, 2003).
Public health educators began to use posters in educational campaigns starting
from early nineteenth century. Health education specialists adopt modern methods of visual persuasion. Instead of dull pamphlets, they felt that modern health messages should mark attractive layouts, colors, and typefaces for greatest impact (Colgrove, 2004). “Publicity should be dramatic, entertaining, and carefully planned” Moree cited in Colgrove (2004, 506). Posters are designed in a way to
catch the attention of viewer and communicate messages quickly, most often with
limited text and strong graphics. As relatively inexpensive forms of popular media,
posters in the twentieth century are favorite ways to advocate a cause. They
provide opportunity for community concerns, and can be used to call to a broad
public audience (Boyle, 2003).
Due to the many qualities posters have, public health campaigners are encouraged
to use them as powerful medium for visually communicating knowledge about
disease, and for promoting changes in behavior. In the process, poster designers
developed a visual vocabulary to help shape and define “normal “and “healthy” behaviors and conditions which has provided the basis for a variety of campaigns
against infections diseases and environmental health hazards (Boyle, 2003,2).
Statement of the problem
This study aims to analyse how effectively hospital health posters in selected Abuja hospitals communicate health message. In other words, it looks in to whether the poster are designed in a way the audience understands them. It also explores the strategy presently employed by hospitals communication unit in designing health messages.
Posters and posters are believed to play vital role for people to gain awareness
and control over factors that influence their basic needs. Concerning this visual
aids, Starrs and Rizzuto (1995, 1) state “experience has shown that, a welldesigned
campaign can change people’s knowledge, attitudes and behavior” (Starrs and Rizzuto, 1995, 1). They also emphasize that effective campaigns begin through research to find out what people currently know, believe and do.
Particular attention needs to be paid in designing posters and posters especially
for a society where reading culture is not vastly developed. Many people doubt the quality of health posters and posters produced in Abuja. Most of these visual materials seem to be produced on impulse rather than assessing audience’s background and involving target audience. So their effectiveness is also doubtful. Though initiatives have been taken to curb health problems (like the spread of HIV) little has been done to certain the impact of these posters and posters on bringing awareness and promoting behavior change.
A report on assessment of the National Health Communication (2004,8) states that,
“in most cases the health learning materials produced at the central level are mostly not considered useful and applicable to their situations”. Most of the regions believe that, materials and messages created by the center do no explain the realities of the regions.
Mody (1991, 19) states that, “Most of the development workers frequently lack
the skills, tools, techniques and attributes to understand and involve audiences in
the development process. This is a problem of communication and unfortunately
not enough practical attention has been paid to the research to lessen it”.
Accordingly audiences should have the opportunity to collectively criticize,
analyze and participate in the communication process (White, 1991).
1.3 Objective of the study
1.3.1 General Objective
This paper is designed as a pragmatic analysis the effectiveness of hospital’s posters in creating awareness and promoting behavior change. In other words, the general objective of the study is to investigate if message is clearly communicated in a way the target audience perceives.
1.3.2 Specific Objective
More specifically the study attempts to see the following objectives:
- To draw attention to use visual images in health promotion both to aid in creating awareness and in promoting behavior change.
- To asses knowledge, attitude and perception of patience in relation to visual images
- To assess the poster designing process undertaken by hospitals: whether the pre and post-production process involves the target audience or not.
- To identify gaps and draw lessons in relation to health posters designing process.
1.3.3 Research Questions
All the undertaking of this study is finally expected to show how effectively
message is communicated through hospitals’s posters. To this end; the study
answers the following basic questions based on a framework for making public
awareness posters by Bowers (1981).
- Is the channel preferable by the community?
- Does the image represent the caption?
- Does the message stimulate emotions?
- Is the message clear and easy to understand?
- Is the message target specific?
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study is believed to promote the utilization of posters and posters for the
purpose of message transmission. It is believed to contribute towards generating
guidelines necessary for further improvement of poster production to bring about
the expected result.
This study promotes the significance of empowering people to participate in any
development work through participatory communication. It enables the society to
influence the decision-making processes of formulating and implementing
products and programs intended to satisfy their needs and solve their problems.
The society will benefit if messages are transmitted to them in a way they
understand best, thus creating awareness and promoting behavior change.
This research has significance to communication planners and message designers
as well. It helps them to examine and act upon the strength and weakness of their
message transmission skill. For hospitals too, this study is important because it
enhances message-designing skill of communication planners and health workers.
1.5 Scope of the Study
The paper examines the effectiveness of hospital’s posters in communicating
health messages. However this study does not include the recently produced
Hospital’s posters since they came out after the data for this research has
already been gathered. Moreover, the study doesn’t incorporate other posters
produced by other organizations, because Hospital’s posters are created with
multi purpose to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and
discrimination places in a child’s path. Furthermore they advocate for measures to
give children the best start in life mostly with the nurturing and caring of children
as a corner stone’s of human progress.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
To conduct this study, only Hospitals’s posters in Abuja are used due to time
and financial constraints. As a result, these constraints couldn’t help the researcher to incorporate posters outside abuja. Thus, due to this, the study doesn’t show the
audience perspective outside the capital city. This in turn shows that the results of this study are applicable to the selected area.
A Pragmatic Analysis Of Health Information, Education And Communication (Iec) Handbills And Posters