Journal of Health Communication. 1(3): 247-65.
This study of the interdependence of interpersonal and mass communication focused on the influence of the audience's stage of behavior change on their choice of information sources. It is currently understood that the mass media are effective at information dissemination which increases knowledge about innovations, and interpersonal communication facilitates behavior change allowing adoption of the innovations. The first hypothesis of the study was that as individuals progress in the adoption-of-behavior process (knowledge, approval, intention, practice, and advocacy), their media message recall would improve (this also implies that messages aimed at new users of family planning (FP), for example, will fail to reach their target audience). The second hypothesis was that individuals in the approval and intention stages would have the highest level of mass-media-generated communicated with their family and friends and those in the practice stage (of FP) would have the highest level of mass-media-generated communication with medical personnel. The third hypothesis was that the stage of behavior adoption would be negatively associated with information-seeking and positively associated with information-giving. These hypotheses were tested in Peru where a FP communication intervention took place from 1992-94 and was evaluated with urban probability household survey questionnaires. Data were analyzed to determine 1) the network role of individuals with whom the respondents discussed the mass media messages about FP; 2) the relationship of age and education to stage of FP adoption; and 3) the average number of mass media messages recalled, family and friends talked with, and medical personnel consulted by stage of behavior change. It was found that, contrary to theory, individuals in the later stages (practice and advocacy) were more likely to seek information from others than individuals in the earlier stages. As theorized, individuals who had used FP for more than a year were more likely to recall giving information to others. The data supported the first, but not the second, hypothesis. The third hypothesis was unsupported as it applied to information-seeking and supported as it applied to information-giving.