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Exploring the Healthy Behaviors of Nigerians during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This is a lay summary of the article published under the DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.25.20235457

Published onJun 05, 2023
Exploring the Healthy Behaviors of Nigerians during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Covid-19 news encouraged healthy habits in Nigeria, but also anxiety

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Nigerian people and the rest of the world had to make behavioural changes to stay safe. Covid-19 related news shared by the media has had both positive and negative effects on the behavioural changes of people in Nigeria.

To stay safe during the pandemic, we all needed to practice social distancing, hand washing and wearing of masks, as well as being aware of our general health. We are all dependent on the media to inform us of the ways we can prevent the virus from spreading. 

It is important to understand which behaviours were adopted by participants in Nigeria, and how the media played a positive and negative role during this time.

This study surveyed the good behavioural changes adopted by Nigerian participants during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also looked at how participants were otherwise affected by the media during the pandemic.

The researcher created an online questionnaire that was distributed using social media. 

Participants had to give information about their demographics (like their age and gender), their own behaviours to stay healthy and avoid Covid-19, and how they were affected by news about Covid-19.

The 33 participants (17 females and 16 males) reported behaviours like social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing to avoid being infected with or spreading Covid-19. 

Most of the participants said that these behaviours were inspired by Covid-19-related news, but that the news also increased their anxiety. Some even avoided Covid-19 news because of the rise in fake news.

Many studies focused on behavioural changes relating to mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic, but this study looked specifically at the role the media plays in such behaviour change. 

This study also looked at the role the media plays in encouraging healthy behaviour changes that keep people safe.

The researcher notes that the study excluded participants without access to the internet, and states that this limitation, along with the selection of the questions, could have compromised their findings. The researcher also notes that because the anxiety levels of the participants were self-reported, there was no way to truly quantify participant anxiety levels due to news about Covid-19. 

The researcher noted that the media could encourage and strengthen healthy behaviours if they do not spread Covid-19 related fear. 

The researcher was based in Nigeria and the participants of this study were all from Nigeria.


Healthy behaviors remain important for staying safe during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This study, therefore, explored the healthy behaviors of Nigerians during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of COVID-19 related news on healthy behaviors. Thirty-three (17 females and 16 males) participants from the general Nigerian population with age range of 23-64 years were recruited via social media using the snowball technique. Responses were elicited using semi-structured questions and subjected to thematic analysis. The healthy behaviors identified included; “social distancing”, “changes in nutrition”, “hand washing or sanitizing”, “exercise”, “increased vigilance from those with comorbidities”, and “use of facemask”. In another analysis, the impacts of COVID-19 related news on healthy behaviors were; “behavior modification”, “anxious impacts”, and “fake news about COVID-19 caused people to stop listening to COVID-19 related news”. Findings generated practical implications for enhancing healthy behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The role of the media in strengthening healthy behaviors during the pandemic was also highlighted.


This summary is a free resource intended to make African research and research that affects Africa, more accessible to non-expert global audiences. It was compiled by ScienceLink's team of professional African science communicators as part of the Masakhane MT: Decolonise Science project. ScienceLink has taken every precaution possible during the writing, editing, and fact-checking process to ensure that this summary is easy to read and understand, while accurately reporting on the facts presented in the original research paper. Note, however, that this summary has not been fact-checked or approved by the authors of the original research paper, so this summary should be used as a secondary resource. Therefore, before using, citing or republishing this summary, please verify the information presented with the original authors of the research paper, or email [email protected] for more information.

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