A Pragmatic Analysis Of Health Information, Education And Communication (Iec) Handbills And Posters

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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.







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:

  1. To draw attention to use visual images in health promotion both to aid in creating awareness and in promoting behavior change.
  2. To asses knowledge, attitude and perception of patience in relation to visual images
  3. To assess the poster designing process undertaken by hospitals: whether the pre and post-production process involves the target audience or not.
  4. 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

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