Effect of health seeking behaviour of caregivers on severe malaria outcome in under-fives seen in a tertiary health institution in Nigeria
Background: Recognition of the symptoms and seeking prompt treatment in a health facility is a major means of reducing morbidity and prevention of mortality from severe malaria in under-fives.
Objectives: To document the effect of health-seeking behaviour of caregivers and severe malaria outcome in underfives seen in a tertiary health institution in Nigeria.
Design: A descriptive cross-sectional study carried out from July 2012 – June 2013. Data were obtained using a researcher-administered questionnaire.
Subjects: Caregivers and children (6 – 59 months) who presented with features of severe malaria according to World Health Organization criteria.
Results: Of the 120 caregivers mean [SD] age (31.4 [7.0] years) /child pairs (24 [14.7] months), 35 (29%) caregivers had appropriate health-seeking behaviour. The commonest place visited for initial healthcare before presentation was the patent medicine vendors by 87 (73%) caregivers. Seventy-seven per cent of caregivers who did not have appropriate health-seeking behaviour were from the lower family social class (p = 0.03). Caregivers whose children presented with severe anaemia were significantly more likely to have appropriate health-seeking behaviour (p = 0.00). The mortality rate of severe malaria was 15 per 1000; of which 94% were children whose caregivers did not have appropriate health-seeking behaviour. Age younger than 2 years (p = 0.02), cerebral malaria (p = 0.01) and jaundice (p = 0.03) significantly predicted mortality in the children irrespective of the caregivers’ health-seeking behaviour status.
Conclusion: Less than a third of the caregivers had appropriate health-seeking behaviour for their under-fives with severe malaria, and the majority of these were from the lower family social class. Cerebral malaria and jaundice significantly predicted mortality in children with severe malaria irrespective of caregivers’ health-seeking behaviour status.
Keywords: behaviour, caregivers, severe malaria, health-seeking, outcome
Funding: The study was self-sponsored by the authors
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