Influence Of Mass Media On Contraceptive Use Among Nigerian Women


Influence Of Mass Media On Contraceptive Use Among Nigerian Women

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Governments facing the challenge of burgeoning population around the world have put in place various strategies and policies to increase the uptake of contraceptives and thereby increase contraceptive prevalence rate, reduce birth rates and reduce sexually transmitted diseases. Several studies provide evidence that the exposure of individuals to mass media messages, promoting family planning influences contraceptive behavior (Piotrow, Rimon, Winnard,Kincaid,Huntington and Convisser, 1990; Bankole, Rodriguez and Westoff, 1996 and Westoff and Bankole, 1997). United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (1969), states that family planning education and motivation are largely matters of communication and because family planning is usually a national goal it is relevant to think in terms of nationwide mass communication in addition to individual personal communication. The use of contraception which is a part of the larger family planning project in a country can only be successful if the people are made aware of the need for family planning and given all the information about its principles and practice. The people should have the opportunity to evaluate the information and services offered and try out the methods suggested. It is after such trial that the adoption of family planning methods and their continuation becomes a habitual practice (UNESCO, 1969). The mass media is useful and perhaps indispensable in creating and maintaining awareness and giving information. The experiences in countries such as Korea showed that mass media can be useful in correcting misconceptions that may arise and help in continually reassuring people of the safety and legitimacy of the family planning measures that they have adopted. Bankole et al (1996) established that in Nigeria the use of modern contraception, intent to use and desire for fewer children were found to be associated with exposure to media messages on family planning. Jato,Simbakalia and Tarasevich (1999) conducted a study in Tanzania and found that women exposed to a mix of media promoting family planning were more likely to use family planning and therefore contraception. According to Ryerson (1999), the reproductive health area has benefited immensely from mass media messaging and particularly in the developing world. Family planning programs and contraceptive use are vital to national and world development and are not an isolated activity. They are bound up with the development of a country through health, education, industrial development, housing, the improvement of roads and services and a part of development in itself by affecting the standard of living, employment and the supply of food (UNESCO, 1973). World Health Organization (2012) states the benefits of contraceptive use as being: prevention of health related risks such as high risk pregnancies and allows for spacing between births and hence improves the health and wellbeing of families. The use of contraceptives also reduces the need for unsafe abortion, it also helps avoid health related risks associated with early pregnancies and late pregnancies. Contraceptive use can also prevent deaths among infants which is sometimes caused by closely spaced and ill-timed pregnancies among women due to lack of proper family planning. Contraceptive use also enhances education and empowers women enabling them to make the right decisions about child bearing as well as increase their earning power through employment. Contraceptive use is also beneficial to a country by slowing its population growth rate. When the population growth rate of a country is reduced the economic development is spurred and the government is able to invest and grow the economy and subsequently reduce hunger, poverty and insecurity. Contraceptive use also helps prevent sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. 2.2 Theoretical Background The theory of planned behavior asserts that attitudes lead to behavioral intentions but are mediated by perceived social norms and structural barriers (Ajzen, 1988; Ajzen and Fishbein, 1975). The mass media is taken in this theory as having the ability to influence attitude and consequently behavior. An extension to this framework predicts that attitudes toward contraceptive use are likely to influence fertility decisions as well. The health belief model is a psychological model that attempts to explain and predict health behaviors (Becker, 1974). This, it does by focusing on the attitudes and beliefs of individuals. The model helps to explain the role of mass media in influencing contraceptive knowledge, attitudes and behavior. By applying the health belief model an individual would be motivated to use a contraceptive method if he or she perceives that he/she is susceptible to unplanned pregnancies or at risk of having a larger family size than desired, a high degree of negative consequences in terms of health risks or economic or social costs resulting from having a family size larger than desired or from an unplanned pregnancy. The fertility supply demand framework can also be helpful in explaining the role of mass media in contraceptive use. This framework posits that a couple’s supply of and demand for children jointly determine their motivation to stop child bearing (Easterlin and Crimmins, 1985). This motivation to regulate fertility that can be promoted by the mass media, combined with the potential costs of regulating fertility and the monetary costs of the price of contraceptive method determines contraceptive use behavior. The ideational change theory is also a relevant theory to the study. It is associated with Cleland and Wilson (1987) who worked on the European fertility transition data and the World Fertility Survey and theorized that the ideational change was the main explanation for the shift to smaller family sizes. They viewed that the diffusionist approach with its focus on media, communications and influential change agents were critical to the transmission of modern values from external sources which explain the process of ideational change in the field of contraceptive technology. The mass media have certain attributes and advantages which give them a special ability to promote mass communication involving information and education. Mass media acts as a channel of diffusion contributing to the increased use of contraception. The mass media may feature explicit family planning messages that influence both knowledge of and preferences regarding contraception. Secondly, the mass media may operate by exposing viewers to different lifestyles that value small family sizes. According to UNESCO (1973), the strategies for using mass media to influence contraceptive use should have the television, radio, press and print media and audio visual units. The television would have commercials; drama/documentaries; women’s programs; magazine programs and features. The radio should have plays; serials; women’s programs and magazine programs; songs and jingles. The press and print media should have advertisements, cartoon strips, features, leaflets, literature, pamphlets and posters. The film should have commercials, documentaries, feature films, cartoons and newsreels. The mass media influence on contraceptive use refers to the ways in which mass media affects how audiences think and behave as regards the use of contraception. UNESCO (1969), points out that the mass media does not only incorporate radio, television, press and films but should also embrace the resources of local song and dance, puppet shows, story tellers and other means of communication at the local level.



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