Ugandans learnt more about Kaposi’s Sarcoma disease after hearing and seeing educational messages
Researchers noted improved knowledge and attitudes on Kaposi’s Sarcoma after the public was taught about the disease through media in Uganda. They say the government could use similar approaches to educate the community about other diseases.
Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) is a type of cancer that causes lesions to grow under the skin, mouth, nose, and throat. Lesions are bumps or patches on the skin. KS is a big problem in East Africa, but can be treated if detected early. However, many patients seek care only when it is already too late, largely because they know little about the disease.
In this study, researchers developed some educational messages about KS, and checked if these messages could create awareness in the community.
They made videos, cartoons, and radio clips with messages that teach people how to check their skin or mouth for KS, to visit hospital or clinic if they notice any changes on their skin, and to ask to be tested for KS. They then tested if these messages would make adults at an open market in rural Uganda more aware about KS.
Each participant either watched a video, looked at a cartoon, or listened to a radio clip. The researchers asked the participants questions before and after exposure to the content, to check if their knowledge and attitudes about KS had improved.
The researchers also collected information on age, sex, education, residence, income and HIV status.
They reported that before participants were exposed to the media, very few correctly identified KS wounds, believed everyone could develop KS, or felt they were at risk of KS. However, after exposure, more people could now correctly identify KS wounds, felt they were at risk of KS and believed that anyone could develop KS.
Numbers of those who knew that doctors needed to test part of their skin to confirm if they had the disease also increased after watching the cartoons.
Researchers observed that after exposure to media, 37% more respondents said they would now go to a hospital or clinic to do the skin test. However, even after exposure to the media, many participants still did not know what caused KS.
Results also showed that participants in urban areas were more likely to correctly identify KS from pictures compared to those in rural areas.
When the researchers asked participants about risk factors, only 1 in 5 felt that all people were at risk; 16% believed that KS could be passed from one person to another; and about 1 in 10 felt the poor are at more at risk or that being sexually active puts one at risk. Most (60%) said they would go immediately to a hospital or clinic if they developed suspicious wounds.
The researchers said almost all participants (96%) found the media relevant to their culture, and were happy (93%) with the media content. They said only a few suggested some changes. Also, 1 in 5 believed that including more pictures of KS wounds would be more helpful, while 1 in 3 requested more information about what caused KS.
The researchers said their results show that the messages they created worked well to teach people in Uganda how to detect KS before it is too late
However, they said that the commercial market where they conducted their study may not represent the general population of Uganda. Also, they read for those who could not read, and this might have affected their results.
The researchers recommended that the media used in this study be further evaluated in other countries so that the materials may be used to educate people across Africa.
Despite its hallmark cutaneous presentation, most Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) in Africa is diagnosed too late for effective treatment. Early diagnosis will only be achievable if patients with KS present earlier for care. We hypothesized that public awareness about KS can be enhanced through exposure to common media. We developed educational messages regarding early detection of KS for the general African public portraying a three-part theme: “Look” (regularly examine one’s skin/mouth), “Show” (bring to the attention of a healthcare provider any skin/mouth changes), and “Test” (ask for a biopsy for definitive diagnosis). We packaged the messages in three common media forms (comic strips, radio, and video) and tested their effect on increasing KS awareness among adults attending markets in Uganda. Participants were randomized to a single exposure to one of the media and evaluated for change in KS-related knowledge and attitudes. Among 420 participants, media exposure resulted in increased ability to identify KS (from 0.95% pretest to 46% posttest); awareness that anyone is at risk for KS (29% to 50%); belief that they may be at risk (63% to 76%); and knowledge that definitive diagnosis requires biopsy (23% to 51%) (all ). Most participants (96%) found the media culturally appropriate. Exposure to media featuring a theme of “Look,” “Show,” and “Test” resulted in changes in knowledge and attitudes concerning KS among the general public in Uganda. High incidence and poor survival of KS in Africa are an impetus to further evaluate these media, which are freely available online.
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