Gendering of health communication campaigns in Ghana: Cultural relevancy and social identity

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Pamela J. Shoemaker


Gendering, Health communication, Ghana, Cultural relevancy, Social identity

Subject Categories

Communication | Health Communication | Mass Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Since the early 1980s when HIV/AIDS was first diagnosed, the disease has had tremendous impact on the populations of the world especially, in Sub Sahara Africa. As is the case with most diseases with no known cure, efforts to curtail the diseases' spread have focused on preventive rather than curative strategies. However, recent reports indicate that infection rates continue to rise worldwide, especially among women. Social observers have attributed women's vulnerability to the disease, to various social, economic, and cultural factors. In response to these observations, various projects have been put in place to help address gender discourse issues in HIV/AIDS infection; although an examination of these projects reveals that little attention has been paid to the issue of gender discourse in health communication content.

This study examines gender and communal cultural values in health communication messages, with specific emphasis on televised messages aimed at women. The study seeks to suggest that in addition to persuasion, cultural relevancy and social identity values are applied to the creation of health messages aimed at women. The study applies social identity and cultural relevancy values to already existing televised HIV/AIDS messages and the messages' effects on women were measured using identity salience, credibility of message presenter, acceptance and recall variables. Gender of characters in PSAs was manipulated by replacing male characters with female characters of equal physical and social standing. Communal cultural values manipulation was achieved by replacing statements that focused on the individual's health with statements that stress communal and culturally relevant values of Ghanaians and its relationship with the individual's health.

The study predicted that manipulating these two variables in health messages aimed at women would lead to high identity salience, source credibility, message acceptance and message recall. The results indicate that gender identity and communal cultural values in HIV/AIDS communication does impact the way women receive these messages. Seventy Ghanaian women between the ages of 20 and 56 years took part in the study.*

*This dissertation is a compound document (contains both a paper copy and a CD as part of the dissertation). The CD requires the following system requirements: Windows MediaPlayer or RealPlayer.


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