Public Health Project Topics

Social Media Influence on Public Awareness and Knowledge of Sickle Cell in Lagos

Social Media Influence on Public Awareness and Knowledge of Sickle Cell in Lagos

Social Media Influence on Public Awareness and Knowledge of Sickle Cell in Lagos

Chapter One

Purpose of the study

The purpose of the study is to ascertain the influence of social media in creating public awareness of sickle cell disease. Besides it also specifies the limitation of past study on the subjects and advancing the new knowledge on it.

Aims and Objectives


To asess the level of knowledge, attitude, and practices on social media in the people of Nigeria and also to explore the role of social media in the raising of awareness of the people of Nigeria.




This chapter is dedicated to a review and assessment of literature that speak to the issue of Sickle cell disease and the role of social media in enhancing the awareness of the disease. The chapter begins by examining concepts such as the sickle cell disease, health education as well as the roles that social media plays towards the creation of awareness of the general public on Sickle Cell Disease. The chapter continues with an examination of empirical studies that have investigated the roles of social media in sickle cell awareness programmes and the various challenges fraught with the social media influence in the creation of awareness about the condition. This section considers relevant literature on the theoretical underpinnings of the instrumentality of social media towards SCD advocacy and awareness creation. The chapter continuous by discussing how important it is to understand the role of social media and the challenges they face. The chapter continues by examining empirical literature on the awareness of sickle cell disease and buttresses why there is a need for an evaluation of the social media influence in sickle cell awareness. The chapter finally ends by proposing a theoretical framework that speaks to the improved participation of social media in the creation of Sickle Cell awareness.

Discussion of concepts

 Health Promotion and Education

Health has been an elusive term due to the multiple ways and perspectives that the concept can be analyzed. There are many ways through which health can be envisioned. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as the state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity (WHO, 1947). The definition by WHO continues by stressing on the fact that health refers to the highest attainable standard of living that is one of the fundamental rights of every human being. According to Gorin et al (2006), freedom from disease and illness implies an ideal state among three sources of wellbeing which are physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, and social wellbeing.

Importantly, Robertson and Minkler (1994) see health as a process of empowerment, where there is a strong link between individuals’ or communities’ sense of power and the level of health they experience has been identified. This empowerment process is the core of health intervention strategies that are aimed at improving the health of populations. The Ottawa Charter of the World Health Organization broadened the conceptualization of health to also include an understanding of the social, political, and economic determinants of health. To reach a state of health, “an individual or group must be able to identify and to realize aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment (WHO, 1986). Health, in this case, can therefore be seen as a resource for everyday life.

In a conference in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan in 1978, there was the expressive need by nations throughout the world for the development of access to healthcare that will enable their citizens to lead productive lives (Gorin et al, 2006). In a meeting following up in Latvia in 1988, the gaps in healthcare delivery were identified and strategies to achieve health for all persons by the year 2000 were drafted. According to Gorin et al (2006), the strategies called for empowering persons by providing information and decision-making opportunities and improving education and training programs in health promotion and prevention for health care professionals, among others (WHO, 1988). To implement the aim of the first conference and to develop the strategies of the second, WHO (1984) conceptualized health promotion as a multidimensional characterization of health that incorporates a multitude of strategies, including individual and community change. The following are the principles of health promotion that were promulgated;

  1. Health promotion includes the population as a whole in the context of individuals’ everyday lives, rather than focusing on persons at risk for specific diseases.
  2. Health promotion is directed toward action on the causes or determinants of health.
  3. Health promotion combines diverse but complementary methods or approaches, including communication, education, legislation, fiscal measures, organizational change, community development, and spontaneous local activities against health





In the previous chapter, the importance of social media in health awareness campaigns was thoroughly discussed. But more importantly, the contributions of particular media such as broadcast and print to developing awareness campaigns, most especially in the area of SCD was made clear. Also, the major challenges facing the ability of social media to be potent allies in the creation of health awareness were dissected and discussed. In this chapter, the procedures and methods used by the researcher to collect data from sources and population is discussed. The chapter also elaborates on the research design to be adopted and the target population for the study. It discusses sample size and sampling procedure, data collection methods, procedures, and analysis.

Research Design

It is defined as ‘a detailed blueprint used to guide implementations of a research study towards realizing its aims and objective (Aaker and Day, 1990). It focuses on the techniques and methods of collecting data and analyzing it. (Zokmund, 2003). Therefore, a design is about choosing the best approach or method in collecting data. According to Creswell (2009), research design denotes the plan and procedures for research spanning from broad decisions of problem identification to detailed assumptions of data collection and analysis. Thus, a research design seeks to provide the guiding principles and the framework within which all research activities are undertaken (Kothari, 2004). This makes it necessary for any study or research such as this should have a well-established research design because it provides the framework and the structure for the entire research.

It is based on this argument that this study will be an exploratory one. This is because little research has been done in this area where the role of social media in the creation of awareness of SCD in Nigeria has been thoroughly done. The study will not provide conclusive results but will be used to make up for the shortcomings of other studies This study will provide a fresh perspective that will contribute extensively to the debates surrounding the efficacy with which social media performs their social responsibility role in terms of awareness creation. The research will be used to identify issues that affect the ability of social media to perform this function, which can serve as a focus of future research. Although exploratory research can be used qualitatively or quantitatively, the purpose of this research will require the study to assume the posture of a quantitative one, where data will be collected from a predefined group of respondents.

Research Method

The study adopted the quantitative research method. Quantitative research refers to the numerical representation and manipulation of observation which is described and explained in numeric terms (Yin, 1993). Quantitative research is used to measure external realities in a way that the variables can be quantified and analysed using statistical means. Quantitative was also used because it gives more room for generalizations to be made about the findings since larger samples can be used for the study. The study will attempt to reduce the problem to a limited number of variables that can be studied to analyse and determine causality and relationships under highly controlled circumstances. It also reduces subjectivity to a large extent.

Population of the study

Wimmer and Dominick (2011) assert that research populations refer to all subjects and variables in the study area. The target population from which data is collected will be the Nigerian public but a sample representative of the population will be used. First, the populations selected are likely to satisfy the theoretical considerations of the study which are that, they are citizens of this country. The second consideration is that the population selected have access to and consume most of the existing media. Therefore, they will be in the best position to rate the performance of social media in relation to the creation of public awareness about SCD.



Table 4.1:  Socio-Demographic Characteristics of The Respondents




In a broad stroke. the paper sought to examine the role of social media in the creation of public awareness of sickle cell disease. The literature reviewed above shows that a great deal of work has been dedicated towards examining the role of social media in public health awareness campaigns.

Health communication as averred by several authors is deemed to have deep rooted significance in virtually every aspect of health be it wellbeing (absence of disease or infirmity) or the promotion of quality life, and as such has increased in prominence over the years. Today, communication, and for that matter, health communication is at the core of disease management and awareness creation strategies. The credence to this assertion is held by a plethora of scholars who have postulated theories that recognize the potential of communication in preventing diseases and understanding human behavior towards diseases, as well as explaining the perceptions, social norms and uncertainty of health behaviors. Oyama & Okpara (2017) say that this preventive measure of communication ensures that health messages are disseminated using media technologies and organizations for the purpose of creating awareness about diseases and ailments. This encompasses a broad array of activities such as health promotion, health protection, disease prevention and treatment, which are considered pivotal to the overall achievement of the aims of public health, with the penultimate aim of changing behaviours of individuals and communities about issues pertaining to their health, healthcare delivery and policies.

A lot of scholars have intimated that the inclusion of social media in the creation and implementation of public awareness health campaigns yield desirable outcomes measured in terms of knowledge, awareness and attitudes, all contributing the overarching goal of behavioural change. Robinson et al (2014) indicates that, this will help to deliver messages which are either directly or indirectly designed to inform, influence, and persuade the attitudes of target audiences which may result in changing or maintaining healthy behaviour, through a variety of channels such as traditional media (like television, radio and newspapers), the internet and social media (websites, Facebook and twitter), small media (like brochures, posters and fliers) as well as one-on-one interaction.

Wakefield et al (2010) believes that media campaigns work through direct and indirect ways to change the behaviour of people by invoking in individuals, emotional and cognitive responses. The role of social media in public awareness is entrenched in the view of Oyama and Okpara (2017), who believe that social media is an integral part of any communication intervention that is aimed at changing the behaviours of individuals and communities about a health habit.

Empirical studies reviewed show that there are diverse studies that have sought to underscore the importance of social media in health communication, as well as public health awareness campaigns. For instance, Quattrin et al (2015) in examining the relationship between social media and health promotion campaigns aver that public health programmes benefit greatly from the use of social media to provide positive health behaviours. However, broadcast media such as Television and Radio dominate the literature when it comes to social media platform that is best suited in achieving these health outcomes (Quattrin et al, 2015). Sharma and Gupta (2018) in their study paper argue that social media plays a critical role because not only do they create awareness about a particular health behaviour, disease, knowledge or attitudes, but they also inform and educate people with the broad aim of achieving better health outcomes. Others like Wogu (2019) admit the same assertions held by the aforementioned scholars.

But in as much as social media is deemed central to public health awareness campaigns, there are some challenges that affect the ability of social media to deliver on this mandate. Diedong (2013) enumerated several issues that belittle social media’s ability to create awareness and disseminate information adequately on prevalent health issues such as the non-prominence of medical framing, lack of sophistication in dealing with health issues, as well as the lack of proactiveness and innovation on the part of organizations that lead the charge on health delivery, as well as its augmenting and allied agencies to engage social media to focus on medical framing dimension or specialized health reporting in Nigeria. This is confirmed by others such as Tuurosong (2005), Kwansah-Aidoo (2003) and Nyame (2000).

Sickle cell disease is a condition that has plagued a lot of countries, of which Nigeria is an inalienable part of. Taken together, the available literature and sources on sickle cell disease prevention and awareness provide ample evidence that there have been significant strides on research on SCD, and as such, most of the reviewed literature shows a lack of knowledge on SCD among at risk populations. Boyd et al (2005), Treadwell et al (2006), Prabhakar (2009), Osbourne (2011) and Ugwu (2016) conclude that participants had no knowledge of SCD, its inheritance patterns, their carrier status as well as the treatment strategies although they were aware that it is a defective blood disorder.

There are limited studies on SCD in Nigeria. The most recent one was a research conducted by Antwi et al (2008) who examined the healthcare provision for SCD in Nigeria, concluding that SCD patients in Nigeria have limited access to quality clinical, health educational, social and psychological care. The authors argue strongly for the need to improve healthcare and social services for patients and families, to improve on the quality of life of SCD patients through the adoption of an affordable intermediate strategy that could be the model for the development of services in both Nigeria and other comparable African countries.

Meanwhile, as argued above, social media is seen to be a potent ally in bridging the gap or deficiency in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours about SCD in Nigeria. The researcher proposed the use of the Social Responsibility theory of the press as a guide in assessing the role of social media in the creation of public awareness of the sickle cell disease in Nigeria. Specifically, the study seeks to find out the various ways in which social media contribute towards the public’s understanding and perception of SCD, the most potent media tool as well as the challenges that social media are fraught with in their bid to deliver on this mandate.

Using the quantitative approach, the researchers aspires to gauge the performance of social media from the public’s perspective since they serve as the resultant consumers of social media texts and products. This aim will be actualized through a survey that will see respondents within the remits of Lagos answer questions which have been structured to understand the roles and challenges of social media in public awareness of SCD in Nigeria.

Results from this study will serve as a basis of future extensive and broader study into the area of social media roles in SCD education in Nigeria. It will also contribute to the extensive body of literature on health communication and SCD. The findings will also help shape policy that will see social media maximize its efforts in educating and sensitizing the public about SCD.


 Health facility

Health workers should carry out income generating activities such as animal husbandry and commercial crop growing to improve their income. This will enable them access sources of information such as newspapers, radios, televisions, internet and phones thereby improving their knowledge on sickle cell prevention.

Health facility In-charges should plan for and conduct integrated outreaches in rural areas every month. This will improve sickle cell prevention practice of health workers.

Health facility In-charges should design weekly timetables for conducting continuous medical education at the health facility and awareness campaigns on sickle cell prevention in the community to encourage people to go for sickle cell prevention.

State Health Office

The State Health Officer should appoint a focal person at the State to head monitoring and supervision of sickle cell prevention activities by health workers within the State.

The State Focal Person for sickle cell prevention should plan and budget for funds for running of sickle cell prevention activities such as annual refresher training of health workers, continuous medical education and awareness campaigns on sickle cell prevention.

The State Health Office should carry out regular refresher training of health workers; at least once a year, especially those in rural areas on sickle cell prevention.

Procure sickle cell prevention equipment such as microscopes for Health Centre IIIs. This will improve attitude and practice of health workers towards sickle cell prevention.

Partner with private laboratories to subsidise cost of sickle cell prevention for adults to enable them access sickle cell prevention services.


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