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THE ROLE OF INFORMATION LITERACY IN THE ACTUALIZATION OF HEALTHY LIVING: A CASE STUDY OF ABIA STATE
Date of this Version
The study examines the role of information literacy in the actualization of healthy living in Nigeria, with a special focus on Abia State. Information literacy is viewed as the ability to recognise the need for information, identify and locate appropriate sources of information, access the information, evaluate and use it effectively. Information literacy empowers people to have skills that will assist them to become independent lifelong learners, with better decision making abilities, especially in healthy living. Healthy living is defined as maintaining a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, which is not necessarily devoid of disease or infirmity. It involves steps, actions, and strategies adopted to achieve optimum health. Healthy living is therefore taking responsibility and making good health choices for the present and future well-being; which involves eating right, being physically fit, emotionally and spiritually well, and preventing all that hampers good health. Six objectives guided the study. The study adopted survey research design. The area of study is Abia State, Nigeria, while the population of the study comprised people dwelling in Umuahia and Aba Metropolis, Abia State, Nigeria. The sample and sampling technique comprised 450 respondents randomly selected from Umuahia and Aba metropolis in Abia State. The instrument for data collection was structured questionnaire containing 77 items in 6 clusters. Method of data analysis adopted involved frequency counts and mean scores. The findings of the study revealed that people access healthy living information through books, newspapers, journals, library, internet, social media, conversation with friend and colleagues, interaction with medical practitioners, radio and television, among others. That the extent of accessing healthy living information is high among people, particularly the literates, owing to proliferation of information sources on health. The study equally revealed that effective utilization of health information include checking prescriptions, reading labels of drugs before taking them, communicating with doctors and nurses, locating and accessing health facilities, being mindful of what to eat, identification of symptoms of health disorder, regular check-ups, engaging in regular exercises, maintaining healthy weight and preventing diseases, among others. The findings also revealed that the benefits of accessing and utilizing healthy living information involve adopting appropriate health practices; enhances healthy eating; maintaining healthy weight, being physically active; going for regular check-ups; avoidance of stress; avoidance of emergency situations; reduction of mortality rate and avoidance of untimely death. Consequences of low information literacy rate on healthy living were equally identified. However, recommended strategies for improving information literacy on healthy living, which among others include identifying sources of information, accessing them, utilizing them effectively, and adopting the knowledge gained from such information for right healthy living decisions or choices. The study concluded that information literacy on healthy living is imperative so as to empower individuals in having adequate health knowledge and improved healthy living practices.