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Abstract

In this study, the author examined the correlation between dissemination of health information in Nigerian newspapers and the health behaviours of newspaper readers. The author adopted the survey method to sample the opinions of 770 newspaper readers in Nigeria and found a correlation between dissemination of health information in Nigerian newspapers and an improvement in the health behaviours of newspaper readers. Mass media have been an important component in human society and this is reflected in various functions they perform and how these functions impact on individual members of society and the polity at large. The information, education and entertainment functions of mass media in particular, place several tasks on them and necessitate the coverage of a wide range of human endeavours and subject areas. These subject areas include among others: health, politics, education, sports, science and technology, environment, arts and culture, business and economy, life and style and religion. Through the dissemination of information on these subject areas, mass media shape and influence the thoughts, attitudes and behaviours of media audiences, especially through the use of agenda setting technique. The study, therefore, strongly recommends that health care providers, policy makers, health communication practitioners and other stakeholders should use newspapers more strategically in disseminating health information in order to achieve good health outcomes among members of Nigerian populace.

Keywords: Health information, health behaviours, newspaper readers, Nigerian newspapers, mass media, health communication, media effect