An analysis of the role of community based radio stations in the dissemination of health care information to women in Kakamega county
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Rural women in Kenya account for 34.2% of the total population and play a significant role as family caretakers, and the driving force behind health information seeking in the family. However, obstacles such as poverty and illiteracy, have deprived the rural women access to information. This study sought to analyse the role of four community-based radio stations (West FM, Radio Mambo, Mulembe FM and Sulwe FM) in disseminating health care information to the rural women in Kakamega County and bridging the gap of poor access to healthcare information service. The specific objectives were to establish the basis and rationale of radio programming in the four community-based radio stations in Kakamega County; examine the relevance of their health-related programs; and the perception of the women on the existing radio-based health care information aired by the four community-based radio stations in Kakamega County. The underlying theory behind this study is the framing theory. A mixed method research design was used incorporating quantitative survey among women and a qualitative analysis of information in the radio health-related programs. The study population comprised of 53 personnel from four radio stations and 355,000 women aged between 15-49 in Kakamega County. Using a purposive sampling method and the Yamane (1967) sample size formula, identified respondents included eight persons from the four radio stations and 400 women listeners. Semi-structured questionnaire and interview guides were used to collect data from the women listeners and key informants respectively. Quantitative data was analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software. Content analysis of qualitative data was done using Atlas ti.8.Quantitative findings were presented as frequencies, mean, standard deviation in text, table, bar chart, graph and pie chart formats. Qualitative findings were divided into themes and categories and presented in text/narrative format The findings show that women as a significant audience in this study are not included in the design of context specific programming at the four community radio stations even though (77%) of the women affirmed that they had been influenced to have better perception of health issues.The radio stations provide health related information that enlightens and entertain their audience, however, the content is not evidence-based or context specific.Majority of the women remain neutral on wether the radio health programms have influenced their perception towards health programms.Including women in the program design and conducting periodic research to understand their perceptions towards the programms are some recommended ways to ensure evidence-based and context specific programming to women in Kakamega County that can boost their uptake of healthcare services.This research also forms a benchmark upon which approaches and guidelines for dissemination of health care information to improve access to those services by women can be implemented.