Main Article Content
Background: Maternal and child health care is very important and crucial in the monitoring and evaluation of various developmental agenda especially in developing nations.
Aim/Objective: This study was carried out to ascertain the effects of religiosity on maternal and child health practices in rural and urban Cross River State, Nigeria.
Method: The study design was a comparative analytical cross-sectional study amongst mothers with under-five children in rural and urban households in Cross River State and the study populations comprise mothers of under-five children, traditional and traditional birth attendants in Cross River State. Sampling technique used to select respondents in the rural and urban sites was multistage sampling method and the sample size was determined using standard method of comparing two independent groups. For Focus Group Discussions (FGD), purposive sampling method was employed in both study sites. Religiosity was assessed using the ORA dimension of the Duke University Religion Index (DUREL), which is usually measured as frequency of attendance of organized religious activities. The study instrument was a semistructured questionnaire and data obtained was analyzed using SPSS version 21.0.
Results: Statistical analysis showed that the age of mother, husband and marriage of women from the rural communities was significantly higher (P< 0.05) than that of women from the urban communities. Religious practices to have safe pregnancy did not significantly predict women having complications in last pregnancy in both study settings while in the rural and urban communities (P<0.05), religious practices significantly influenced family planning methods (P<0.05). In child health practices, religious practices significantly influenced the rural communities practice of breastfeeding child (P= 0.001) and giving child colostrum (P= 0.048) while in the urban communities, it significantly influenced giving child colostrum (P= 0.002).
Conclusions: This study therefore concludes that religiosity significantly affects maternal and child health care practices in rural and urban communities of Cross River State, Nigeria and also serve as useful baseline for better understanding of the dynamics of influence of religiosity on maternal and child health practices in Cross River State of Nigeria.
Recommendation: Maternal health education as well as education and engagement of spiritual leaders are highly recommended.