The Health Belief Module (HBM) was a theory developed in 1950 to explain the process of change concerning health behaviour.
The underlying assumption of the HBM is that to engage in healthy behaviour, intended audiences should be aware of their risk for severe or fatal diseases and recognize that the benefit of behaviour change outweighs probable barriers or other negative aspects of the recommended action.
From the Health Belief Module assumption above, those Ghanaians who flout the coronavirus directive should be made aware of their risk of contracting the coronavirus and they should also recognize that the benefit they will derive from complying with the directives outweighs any probable barriers to the recommended action.
Explaining reasons for some Ghanaian’s non-adherence to the coronavirus preventive measures using the key components of the Health Belief Model;
Perceived Susceptibility: this involves an individual’s perception of whether he/ she is at risk of contracting a specific illness or health problem. With this point, you realize that some Ghanaian’s attitude towards coronavirus shows that they have not come to terms with personal risk which is one of the most powerful perceptions in stimulating individuals to adopt healthier behaviour. Probably if they see the risk of personally contracting coronavirus to be greater than the likelihood of them engaging in healthier behaviours (such as practising social distancing, frequently washing of hands with soap under running water and wearing a nose mask when going to town) to decrease coronavirus will be the greater. However, if they continue to perceive a personal risk to be less, the probability of adopting new behaviour will become low.
Perceived Severity: this HBM component indicates the subjective feeling on whether the specific illness or health problem can be severe or life-threatening and therefore worthy of one’s attention. In Ghana, Some Ghanaians have not yet seen the severity of the coronavirus because they do not believe it exists. Though the perception of seriousness is mostly based on medical information, it may also come from the belief an individual holds about the difficulties a disease would create or the effect it would have on his or her life in general.
Perceived Benefit: this explains a person’s perception of the gains of adopting recommended actions that would in due course reduce the risk for disease severity, morbidity and mortality. Some Ghanaians do not see how for instance frequently washing their hands with soap under running water, wearing a nose mask or practising social distancing would be of benefit to them. The perceived benefits construct holds the view that people tend to adopt healthier behaviour when they believe the new behaviour will decrease their chances of developing a disease. This, some Ghanaians have not come to terms with. Some say that it is not wearing the nose mask for instance that will prevent a person from contracting the coronavirus or death. They say that if you wear the nose mask or not if a person would die, he or she would die anyway.
Perceived Barriers: another component of HBM states that a person’s perception of the cost (that is economic cost and lifestyle sacrifices) of and obstacles to adopting recommended actions. Perceives Barriers signify an individual’s evaluation of the hurdles impeding the adoption of new behaviour. Some reasons why some Ghanaians do not comply with the directives outlined have partly to do with money and lifestyle sacrifices. Wearing a nose mask, for example, means purchasing it with money and most people may not have the money to purchase the nose mask from time to time. Ghanaians are also known to be hospitable. They love to shake hands, hug and sit together to have conversations. So, asking Ghanaians to practice social distancing, for instance, means they have to forgo these lifestyles that they are used for years and keep some distance when talking to a fellow Ghanaian. This does not sink well with some people that is why they ignore social distancing and live the life they are used to before coronavirus emerged. However, for the new coronavirus preventive measures to be adopted, a person needs to believe its benefits outweigh the consequences of continuing the old behaviour to overcome the barriers.
What then can be done to cause all Ghanaians to comply with the coronavirus preventive measures?
There should be;
One, Cue to action: which is the showcasing of events, people, or things that can move people to change their behaviour. Sometimes people want to see evidence, especially the figures reported to be people who have contracted coronavirus for them to see how serious the coronavirus is.
Two, Self-efficacy; is the belief in one’s own ability to do something. Ghanaians should resolve and be confident in their ability to perform and sustain the recommended coronavirus preventive measures with little or no help from others.
In conclusion, this is to those Ghanaians who do not comply with the coronavirus preventive measures. Note that you are at risk of contracting the coronavirus. You should also know that the benefits of wearing a nose mask, practising social distancing, and frequently washing your hands with soap under running water among others outweigh the consequences of continuing the old behaviour.
I hope this article is useful.
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