Framing of hepatitis in Nigerian newspapers and public attitude towards the disease
The world is plagued with Hepatitis as one of the deadliest diseases it has ever witnessed. The situation in Nigeria is worrisome considering that the way the media presents issues affects understanding and attitude towards the disease. This study sought to analyse the patterns of reportage of hepatitis in Nigeria’s mainstream newspapers and examine public attitude toward the disease. Four national dailies-Daily Sun, Vanguard, Nation and Daily Trustwere analysed over a period of three years to ascertain the dominant frame, subject matter, and extent of interpretation of the reportage of Hepatitis. Survey was adopted to ascertain
public attitude towards the disease. Hinged on the Framing theory and Health Belief Model, findings revealed that the mutation-contagion (severity) frame was the most dominant frame used with a percentage figure of 61%. This implies that most of the stories laid emphasis on how deadly the disease is, hence feeding the audience with information about how bad the disease is. Further findings showed that the stories were interpretative as interpretative stories constituted 52% of the stories analysed. Other stories analysed (43%) portrayed causes and solutions of the disease as themes showing that the newspapers were balanced in their reports. Findings also showed that the public were partially aware of Hepatitis as they had little knowledge of the causes. They also had positive attitude towards the disease, however, this positive attitude can only achieve so little seeing that they had little knowledge of the causes, hence prevention was difficult. It was also observed that the information need of the public was met in the reports, but the public still had little knowledge of the causes of the disease showing a partial correlation between media reports and audience knowledge level. It was therefore recommended among others that more awareness should be created on the causes of the disease and that further studies should be carried out to explore other sources of public information on Hepatitis.