Research Article

A Discourse on the Effectivenes of Health Communication on COVID-19 Infodemic and Conspiracy Theory in Nigeria

Kelvin Inobemhe 1 * , Tsegyu Santas 1 , Nick-Tansi Saint Udeh 1
More Detail
1 Department of Mass Communication, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, NIGERIA* Corresponding Author
Mediterranean Journal of Social & Behavioral Research, 6(3), October 2022, 93-100, https://doi.org/10.30935/mjosbr/12331
Published: 10 August 2022
OPEN ACCESS   1007 Views   496 Downloads
Download Full Text (PDF)

ABSTRACT

Communication is a necessity for the survival of society. In the face of so much misinformation or fake news in public domain, threatening public health, it has become even more important and needed. Whereas health communication is important in the fight against diseases especially those that have assumed the pandemic status, effective health communication is needed mostly, if the desired result and set objectives must be realized in record time. One important role communication plays in fighting diseases is that it helps eliminate misinformation as well as disinformation. COVID-19 came with all forms of conspiracy theories and fake news across various social media platforms, breeding some form of danger on public health. Such requires effective health communication. Health belief model is the theoretical framework for this paper. Through the use of summative evaluation design by consulting existing research documents in book chapters, journal article and online materials, the paper established that health communication possesses the required powers to quench all forms of infodemic and conspiracies regarding coronavirus. The paper emphasizes that in the face of infodemic and conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19, effective health communication becomes important and can be relied upon to help in quality communication to vulnerable groups on the risk and dangers associated with misinformation. The paper suggests that best ways government and other stakeholders can sustain efforts at stemming the tide with regards to misinformation in public domain without infringing on personal liberties of citizens is to improve efforts aimed at countering fake news across same platforms where fake news thrives.

CITATION (APA)

Inobemhe, K., Santas, T., & Udeh, N.-T. S. (2022). A Discourse on the Effectivenes of Health Communication on COVID-19 Infodemic and Conspiracy Theory in Nigeria. Mediterranean Journal of Social & Behavioral Research, 6(3), 93-100. https://doi.org/10.30935/mjosbr/12331

REFERENCES

  1. Arghittu, A., Dettori, M., Dempsey, E., Deiana, G., Angelini, C., Bechini, A., Bertoni, C., Boccalini, S., Bonanni, P., Cinquetti, S., Chiesi, F., Chironna, M., Costantino, C., Ferro, A., Fiacchini, D., Icardi, G., Poscia, A., Russo, F., Siddu, A., … Castiglia, P. (2021). Health communication in COVID-19 era: Experiences from the Italian VaccinarSì network websites. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(11), 5642. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18115642
  2. Axelsen, J. E., & Emberland, T. (2020). What is a conspiracy theory? C-REX–Center for Research on Extremism. https://www.sv.uio.no/c-rex/english/groups/compendium/what-is-a-conspiracy-theory.html
  3. Barua, Z., Barua, S., Aktar, S., Kabir, N., & Li, M. (2020). Effects of misinformation on COVID-19 individual responses and recommendations for resilience of disastrous consequences of misinformation. Progress in Disaster Science, 8, 100119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pdisas.2020.100119
  4. Basham, L. (2003). Malevolent global conspiracy. Journal of Social Philosophy, 34, 91-103. https://doi.org/10.111/1467-9833.00167
  5. Basham, L. (2018). Joining the conspiracy. Argumenta, 3(2), 271-290. https://doi.org/10.23811/55.arg2017.bas
  6. Benski, C., Goto, A., Teams, C. H., & Reich, M. R. (2020). Developing health communication materials during a pandemic. Frontiers in Communication, 5, 603656. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2020.603656
  7. Berry, D (2007). Health communication: Theory and practice. McGraw-Hill Education
  8. Bligh, A., Jolley, D., Bergmann, E., Grodzicka, E. D., Douglas, K., & Lewandowsky, S. (2020). How dangerous are conspiracy theories? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/how-dangerous-are-conspiracy-theories-listen-to-part-five-of-our-expert-guide-136070
  9. Brennan, P. (2020). A new era of health communication. NLM Musings from the Mezzanine. https://nlmdirector.nlm.gov/2020/07/14/a-new-era-of-health-communications/amp
  10. Budd, J., Miller, B. S., Manning, E. M., Lampos, V., Zhuang, M., Edelstein, M., Rees, G., Emery, V. C., Stevens, M. M., Keegan, N., Short, M. J., Pillay, D., Manley, E. Cox, I. J., Heymann, D., Johnson, A. M., & McKendry, R. A. (2020). Digital technologies in the public-health response to COVID-19. Nature Medicine, 26(8), 1183-1192. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-1011-4
  11. De Coninck, D., Frissen T., Matthijs, K., d’Haenens, L., Lits, G., Champagne-Poirier, O., Carignan, M.E., David, M.D., Pignard-Cheynel, N., Salerno, S., & Généreux, M. (2021) Beliefs in conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID-19: Comparative perspectives on the role of anxiety, depression and exposure to and trust in information sources. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 646394. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.646394
  12. Duffy, B., & Allington, D. (2020). Covid conspiracies and confusions: The impact on compliance with the UK’s lockdown rules and the link with social media use. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/policy-institute/assets/covid-conspiracies-and-confusions.pdf
  13. Ephraim, P. E. (2020). The potentials of radio in combating misinformation about COVID-19 in Nigeria. https://www.intechopen.com/online-first/the-potentials-of-radio-in-combating-misinformation-about-covid-19-in-nigeria
  14. Eysenbach, G. (2011). Infodemiology and infoveillance: Tracking online health information and cyberbehaviour for public health. Cyberinfrastructure and Population Health, 40(5), 154-158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2011.02.006
  15. Finset, A., Bosworth, H., Butow, P., Gulbrandsen, P., Hulsman, R. L., Pieterse, A. H., Street, R., Tschoetschel, R., & van Weert, J. (2020). Effective health communication–a key factor in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Patient Education and Counseling, 103, 873-876. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2020.03.027
  16. Gallotti, R., Valle, F., Castaldo, N., Sacco, P., & De Domenico, M. (2020). Assessing the risks of infodemics in response to COVID-19 epidemics. Nature Human Behaviour, 4, 1285-1293. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-00994-6
  17. Galvão, J. (2020). COVID-19: The deadly threat of misinformation. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 21(5), e114. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30721-0
  18. Glanz, K. (2016). Social and behavioural theories. https://obssr.od.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Social-and-Behavioral-Theories.pdf
  19. Healthy People. (2022, February 6). Health communication and health information technology. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/health-communication-and-health-information-technology
  20. Hepp, A. (2020). Deep mediatization. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351064903
  21. Ifijeh, M. (2020, September 10). Nigeria media and the fight against COVID-19 misinformation. This Day. https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/09/10/nigeria-media-and-the-fight-against-covid-19-misinformation/
  22. Igoe, K. J. (2020). Developing public health communication strategies–and combating misinformation during COVID-19. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ecpe/public-health-communication-strategies-covid-19/
  23. Jahanlou, A.S., Lotfizadeh, M., & Karami, N.A. (2013). A new behavioral model (health belief model combined with two fear models): Design, evaluation and path analysis of the role of variables in maintaining behavior. In O. Oguntibeju (Ed.), Diabetes mellitus–insights and perspectives (pp. 297-311). https://doi.org/10.5772/52966
  24. Kellaghan, T. (2010). Evaluation research. In B. McGraw, E. Baker, & P. Peterson (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (pp.150-155). https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-044894-7.01326-9
  25. Klemm, C., Das, E., & Hartmann, T. (2016). Swine flu and hype: A systematic review of media dramatization of the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Journal of Risk Research, 19(1), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/13669877.2014.923029
  26. Lazer, D. M. J., Baum, M. A., Benkler, Y., Berinsky, A. J., Greenhill, K. M., Menczer, F., Metzger, M. J., Nyhan, B., Pennycook, G., Rothschild, D., Schudson, M., Sloman, S. A., Sunstein, C. R., Thorson, E. A., Watts, D. J., & Zittrain, J. L. (2018). The science of fake news. Science, 9(359), 1094-1096. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aao2998
  27. Mheidly, N., & Fares, J. (2020). Leveraging media and health communication strategies to overcome the COVID-19 infodemic. Journal of Public Health Policy, 41, 410-420. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41271-020-00247-w
  28. Napolitano, M. G., & Reuter, K. (2021). What is a conspiracy theory? Erkenntis. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-021-00441-6
  29. Nichols, B. (2018). The importance of health communication. https://www.chcr.org.uk/importance-health-communication/
  30. Okoye, A. C., & Obulor, I. (2020). Religious organisations and fight against the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa, 23(1), 65-78.
  31. Oxman, A. D., Fretheim, A., Lewin, S., Flottorp, S., Glenton, C., Helleve, A., Vestrheim, D. F., Inversen, B. G., & Rosenbaum, S. E. (2022). Health communication in and out of public health emergencies: To persuade or to inform? Health Research Policy and Systems, 20, 28. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-022-00828-z
  32. Rains, S. A., Crane, T. E., Iyengar, S., Merchant, N., Oxnam, M., Sprinkle, M. M., & Ernst, K. C. (2020). Community-level health promotion during a pandemic: Key considerations for health communication. Health Communication, 35(14), 1747-1749. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2020.1837443
  33. Ratzan, S. C., Sommarivac, S., & Rauh, L. (2020). Enhancing global health communication during a crisis: Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health Research and Practice, 30(2), 3022010. https://doi.org/10.17061/phrp3022010
  34. Rural Health Information Hub (n. d.). Health communication. https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/toolkits/health-promotion/2/strategies/health-communication
  35. Saiful, I. M., Sarkar, T., Khan, S. H., Kamal, A. H. M., Hasan, S. M., Kabir, A., Yeasmin, D., Islam, M. A., Chowdhury, K. I. A., Anwar, K. S., Chughtai, A. A., & Seale, H. (2020). COVID-19-related infodemic and its impact on public health: A global social media analysis. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 103, 1621-1629. https://doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.20-0812
  36. Schiavo, R. (2013). Health communication: From theory to practice. Wiley.
  37. Tang, L., Bie, B., Park, S. E., & Zhi, D. (2018). Social media and outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases: A systematic review of literature. American Journal of Infection Control, 46(9), 962-972. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2018.02.010
  38. Tangcharoensathien, V., Calleja, N., Nguyen, T., Purnat, T., D’Agostino, M., Garcia-Saiso, S., Landry, M., Rashidian, A., Hamilton, C., AbdAllah, A., Ghiga, I., Hill, A., Hougendobler, D., van Andel, J., Nunn, M., Brooks, I., Sacco, P. L., De Domenico, M., Mai, P., Gruzd, A., Alaphilippe, A., & Briand, S. (2020). Framework for managing the COVID-19 infodemic: Methods and results of an online, crowdsourced WHO technical consultation. Journal of Medicine, 22(6), e19659. https://doi.org/10.2196/19659
  39. The Community Guide (n. d.). Health communication and health information technology. https://www.thecommunityguide.org/topic/health-communication-and-health-information-technology
  40. van der Linden, S. (2022). Misinformation: Susceptibility, spread, and interventions to immunize the public. Nature Medicine, 28, 460-467. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-01713-6
  41. Venkatashiva, R. B., & Gupta, A. (2020). Importance of effective communication during COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, 9(8), 3793-3796. https://doi.org/10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_719_20
  42. Wang, H., Cleary, P. D., Little, J., & Auffray, C. (2020). Communicating in a public health crisis. The Lancet Healthy Longevity, 2(10), e503. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(20)30197-7
  43. WHO. (2014, August 15). Ebola: Experimental therapies and rumoured remedies. https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/ebola/15-august-2014/en/
  44. WHO. (2020, September 23). Managing the COVID-19 infodemic: Promoting healthy behaviours and mitigating the harm from misinformation and disinformation. https://www.who.int/news/item/23-09-2020-managing-the-covid-19-infodemic-promoting-healthy-behaviours-and-mitigating-the-harm-from-misinformation-and-disinformation
  45. Wonodi, C., Obi-Jeff, C., Adewumi, F., Keluo-Udeke, S. C., Gur-Arie, R., Krubiner, C., Jaffe, E. F., Bamiduro, T., Karron, R., & Faden, R. (2022). Conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID-19 in Nigeria: Implications for vaccine demand generation communication. Vaccine, 40(13), 2114-2121. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2022.02.005
  46. Zarocostas, J. (2020). How to fight an infodemic. The Lancet, 395, 10225. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30461-X