Marketing hygiene behaviours: the impact of different communication channels on reported handwashing behaviour of women in Ghana

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Abstract

In 2003—04, a National Handwashing Campaign utilizing mass media and community events took place in Ghana. This article describes the results of the evaluation of the campaign in a sample of 497 women with children <5 years. The unifying message across all communication channels was that hands were not ‘truly’ clean unless washed with soap. The campaign reached 82% of the study population. Sixty-two per cent of women knew the campaign song, 44% were exposed to one channel and 36% to two or more. Overall, TV and radio had greater reach and impact on reported handwashing than community events, while exposure to both a mass media channel and an event yielded the greatest effect, resulting in a 30% increase in reported handwashing with soap after visiting the toilet or cleaning a child's bottom. Our evaluation questions wide-held belief that community events are more effective agents of behaviour change than mass media commercials, at least in the case of hygiene promotion. However, failure of mass media to reach the entire target audience, particularly in specific regions and lower socio-economic groups, and the additive effect of exposure, underscores the need to implement integrated communication programmes utilizing a variety of complementary channels.

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