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Effectively Using Media for Health Interventions

A group of researchers effectively used psychology models to develop radio dramas as a health intervention technique in Canadian Inuit communities.

Radio Dramas Promoting Health
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Main content

Development of radio dramas for health communication pilot intervention in Canadian Inuit communities.
Racicot-Matta C, Wilcke M, Egeland GM. Health Promot Int. June 2014

Grace Egeland, an Adjunct Professor from the Lifestyle Epidemiology research group at the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, UiB, was supervisor of the graduate student research project.

Diet changes are impacting health

Diet changes are currently underway in Canadian Inuit communities, away from traditional foods and towards more market foods. This change is coinciding with increased rates of obesity and diabetes among the population. Although the use of education theories in Inuit communities has led to complaints that these do not take into account Inuit values and norms, this research project demonstrates that effective use of the Extended Elaboration Likelihood Model and the Participatory Process (PP) can be effective tools in the sustainable development of culturally appropriate community health interventions.

The study used a mixed-methods approach to develop, produce and test radio dramas that aimed to be used as effective, sustainable health interventions. The goal of any health intervention is behaviour change, but in order to obtain behaviour change, one needs to elicit a central attitude change. Community-based interventions need to meet 3 conditions:

  • Community involvement (in identifying needs and in providing appropriate cultural context),
  • Interventions  based on scientific research, and
  • Selection of proper target groups.

Participation improves impact

This study targeted soft-drink consumption in youth. The Extended Elaboration Likelihood Model is an extension of the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) that is tailored for entertainment-education and persuasive messaging. The researchers also used PP, which they found to be a powerful tool to help increase the effectiveness of the radio drama intervention. Use of PP led the researchers to undertake pre-intervention testing. As a result they undertook modifications of the radio drama intervention material including using Inuit youth recorded music and using Inuit youth voices in the dramas.

The results of this study provide an evidence-based platform that can be used as a model for other media-based health interventions. In addition, community participation in the study resulted in capacity building: members of the community gained skills to produce further health promotion programmes.