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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 5-15

Acute respiratory infections in children: Maternal practices and treatment-seeking behaviour in a south-east Nigerian city

Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Samuel N Uwaezuoke
Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4314/jcm.v21i1.2

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Background: The standard case management for acute respiratory infections (ARI) initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) seeks to reduce pneumonia mortality by encouraging appropriate maternal home-care practices and early treatment from a health-care provider. Objective: To determine the practices and treatment-seeking behaviour of mothers for symptoms and signs of childhood acute respiratory infections. Methods: A health facility-based, prospective cross-sectional study of 400 mothers with interviewer-administered structured questionnaires was conducted. Data were analyzed with descriptive statistics on SPSS (version 17.0), and results were expressed in means ± standard deviations, frequencies and proportions (percentages). Pearson's chi-square test was used to determine the effect of maternal socio-economic class on treatment-seeking behaviour for ARI symptoms. P value less than 0.05 was adopted as the level of statistical significance. Results: For cough, 124/400 (31.0%) mentioned allopathic treatment and self-advised drugs while 274/400 (68.5%) would prefer to seek immediate medical consult. For catarrh, 230/400 (57.5%) would administer home remedies as first line of treatment while 156/400 (38.5%) preferred to seek medical consult from the outset. A substantial majority would immediately consult a health personnel for ear-ache/ear discharge (380/400; 95.0%) and sore-throat (372/400; 85%). For signs of pneumonia, majority would prefer immediate medical consult for fast breathing (394/400; 98.5%), difficult breathing (376/400; 94.0%) and chest in-drawing (390/400; 97.0%). There was no statistically significant difference between the socio-economic classes of mothers would seek immediate medical consult for cough and cold and ear-ache/discharge and those who would not (p > 0.05), but a statistically significant difference was noted between the socio-economic classes of mothers who would seek and those who would not seek immediate medical consult for sore-throat (p <0.05) and pneumonia signs (p <0.001). Conclusions: Mothers would prefer self-advised home remedies for upper respiratory tract infections, but would generally seek immediate medical consult for symptoms of pneumonia. The latter treatment-seeking behaviour appears to be influenced by their socio-economic class. The practice of early self-referral for pneumonia signs may contribute to the successful implementation of the ARI control programme.

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