Oral, literate, and television viewers' ways with health issues
This research demonstrates that people's ways of dealing with matters of life and daily occurrences are not the result of standard common sense deductions from learned facts. It has consistently shown that any presented information gets framed by the respondents in a multitude of ways depending on their habitual ways of dealing, viewing, judging, and challenging messages in their environment. Such ways of interacting with one's direct environment are shaped by the most common means of communication or the media that are being used. The literature that has inspired and guided this research is that of scholars like Ong, Havelock, McLuhan, and Burke who had great contributions to the Communication discipline. Consequently, this research challenges the existing public health literature, which, in its largest majority, is informed by the theoretical understanding of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors within the sociological and psychological disciplines. It is a step away from the practice of crafting messages that are conducive to behavioral change and a step forward toward dealing with any health endeavor as something to be created, negotiated, and recreated within its environment.
Among the research's most significant findings is that the respondents' assessment of the health risks of some of their behaviors had little to do with their knowledge of such risk, and more with their education level and the amount of time they spent watching television. Depending on whether the respondents were defined as “oral”, “literate”, “television viewer”, or “light-to-non viewer”, their responses to identical health information took different turns which reflected various ways of dealing with the issue at hand. The research also showed that the link between the educational level of the mothers and her position on some life threatening health risks weakened significantly when they had already undertaken such health risk, like in the case of smoking. Instead, a strong positive link proved to exist between television viewing and the inclination to admit to the presence of a personal risk due to smoking. The research proved however that underneath such positive health responses among the television viewers, was a reactive language that intended to conform yet remained optimistic about any personal repercussions.
0680: Health education
0573: Public health