EFFECT OF SOCIAL MEDIA HEALTH COMMUNICATION ON KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDE AND INTENTION TO ADOPT HEALTH-ENHANCING BEHAVIOUR AMONG UNDERGRADUATES IN LEAD CITY UNIVERSITY AND TAI SOLARIN UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION, NIGERIA
Studies have shown that the burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and hypertension is on the increase in Nigeria. Adequate knowledge, positive attitude and intention to adopt health-enhancing behaviour as espoused in NEWSTART (Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, Air, Rest and Trust in God) can reduce the incidence. Social media are increasingly being utilised by individuals, health professionals and organisations for health communication as they offer significant potentials. In Nigeria, the usage of social media is high however their utilisation for health communication is arguably low. This study examined the effects of social media health communication on knowledge, attitude and intention to adopt health-enhancing behaviour among undergraduates in Lead City University and Tai Solarin University of Education, Nigeria.
The study adopted quasi-experimental design. Study population was 26,000 undergraduates of Lead City University and Tai Solarin University of Education. Sample size of 200 undergraduates were purposively selected and assigned 25 each to the 4 experimental groups and 4 control groups. A validated questionnaire was used for data collection at baseline and endline from the experimental groups and control groups. The reliability test yielding Cronbach’s Alpha coefficients: knowledge of health-enhancing behaviour = .733; attitude to health-enhancing behaviour = .741; subjective norms=.825; perceived behavioural control =.914; intention to adopt health-enhancing behaviour=.933 and the composite Cronbach’s Alpha result was 0.940. Baseline data of students’ knowledge, attitude and intention to adopt health-enhancing behaviour were collected. This was followed by the exposure of NEWSTART messages via Facebook and WhatsApp to the experimental groups for five weeks, after which endline data were collected. Data were analysed using inferential (paired samples T-test and multiple linear regression) statistics.
Findings revealed that there was a significant difference (t=-2.303; p<0.05) in students’ knowledge of health-enhancing behaviour before and after the social media health communication intervention. No significant difference was observed (t=-.323; p>0.05) in students’ attitude to health-enhancing behaviour before and after the social media health communication intervention. There was no significant difference (t=1.73; p>0.05) in students’ intention to adopt health-enhancing behaviour before and after the intervention. For the theory of planned behaviour, attitude was not a significant predictor (R2=0.0031, β=0.056, p>0.05) of intention to adopt health-enhancing behaviour while subjective norms (R2=0.0481, β=0.220, p<0.05) and perceived behavioural control (R2=0.2916, β=0.540, p<0.05) significantly predicted intention to adopt health-enhancing behaviour with perceived behavioural control being a better predictor.
The study concluded that social media health communication intervention was effective in increasing students’ knowledge of health-enhancing behaviour but not effective in influencing attitude and generating intention to adopt health-enhancing behaviour. Attitude does not predict intention to adopt health-enhancing behaviour but subjective norms and perceived behavioural control predict intention to adopt health-enacting behaviour. It was recommended that health communicators should use social media for health communication if the goal is to increase knowledge but other communication channels should be used where the goals are to influence attitude and behavioural intention.
Keywords: Social media, Attitude, Knowledge, Intention to adopt, Health communication, Subjective norms, Perceived behavioural control