Mothers' knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding acute respiratory infections in children in Baringo District, Kenya

  • D.E. Simiyu
  • E.M Wafula
  • R.W. Nduati


Background: Control of acute respiratory infections (ARI) is a major public health problem in developing countries. Implementation of case management protocols requires participation of the community to reduce morbidity and mortality from ARI. Health education programmes can only be effective when designed to take into account the prevailing knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of the community towards ARI in their children.
Objective: To determine the KAP of mothers regarding ARI in their children aged less than five years.
Design: Community based cross-sectional survey.
Setting: Baringo District, Kenya.
Subjects: Mothers with children aged 0-5 years were recruited following stratified random sampling in three areas of Baringo District to represent low, medium and high potential areas based on agricultural productivity. Intervention: A mixed structured and unstructured questionnaire was administered to each of the respondent mothers by the investigator; with the help of an interpreter where necessary.
Results: A total of 309 mothers were interviewed. Their mean age was 31.5 years (range 16-51) and 34% had no formal education. Only 18% of mothers described pneumonia satisfactorily. 60.2% knew that measles is preventable by immunisation. 87.1% of the mothers said they would seek health centre services for severe ARI. Formal education had a positive influence on the KAP of the mothers.
Conclusion: The study reveals that the mothers had good knowledge of mild forms of ARI but not the severe forms. Their attitude to ARI was appropriate but subsequent practices were not. Low utilisation of health services for moderate ARI may result in continued high mortality because of delayed identification of seriously ill children.

(East African Medical Journal: 2003 80(6): 303-307)

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0012-835X