Communities' perceptions on Covid-19 health risk communication and behaviour change: A study of communities' engagement during the Covid-19 pandemic in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya
Keywords:development communication, health risk communication, pandemic, perceptions, trust
The aim of the study is to investigate the communities’ perceptions on health risk communication on covid-19 prevention, treatment and management in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya. The study adopted a social constructivist-interpretive philosophical worldview and a qualitative-case study design. The target population comprised the ministry of health representatives, communities' elders (both men and women), men and women, health workers (doctors, nurses, and public health workers), youth and youth leaders, media & business community representatives. A sample size of 60 participants was selected. Purposive, quota and snowball sampling techniques were used. Data generation techniques were in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and observation. Data were analysed thematically. Key findings indicate that communities’ perceived public health communication as having empowered communities in understanding the pandemic preventive and control measures; however, they did not trust the public health agencies due to communication gaps on testing, isolation and treatment. This influenced how they implemented the risk messages. The study concludes that for effective communication to yield the desired behaviour and attitude changes expected by the ministry on covid-19, there was a need to adopt a more behavioural and social communication framework that resonates with people's values, beliefs, priorities, resources and social, cultural and material circumstances. This paper recommends the use of participatory communication media in risk communication such as dialogue, alongside the top-down communication inform of directives with a focus on communication for behavioural impact.