"One day I might find myself HIV-positive like her": audience involvement and identification with role models in an entertainment-education radio drama in Botswana

Int Q Community Health Educ. 2007;28(3):181-200. doi: 10.2190/IQ.28.3.b.


Entertainment-education programs promote health and development goals throughout the world. This study looks specifically at a radio serial drama designed to provide behavioral role models for HIV prevention and reproductive health in Botswana as part of the behavior-change strategy, Modeling and Reinforcement to Combat HIV/AIDS (MARCH). The purpose of this qualitative study is to elucidate regular listeners' involvement and identification with three different types of fictional characters in the drama. Regular listeners were interviewed using a semi-structured guide; 31 interviews were analyzed to assess respondents' reactions to three female characters. The findings suggest that characters designed to be "negative," "positive," and "transitional" (i.e., moving from negative to positive) role models were generally perceived as such and that the type of behavior modeled influenced whether a character was perceived to be transitional or positive. Audience members discussed the implications of specific behaviors by contrasting the different character types. Although characters modeled behaviors within distinct but interrelated storylines, the respondents spontaneously compared characters' ways of confronting similar dilemmas across storylines, suggesting that listeners perceived the drama as a unified whole rather than as a series of parallel stories. The use of more than one transitional character for each behavioral objective might be beneficial for improving audience identification with agents of behavior change by providing several models to which the audience can relate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Botswana
  • Data Collection
  • Drama*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Prejudice
  • Qualitative Research
  • Radio*
  • Young Adult