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Diarrheal knowledge and preventative behaviors among the caregivers of children under 5 years of age on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

Authors Merali HS, Morgan MS, Boonshuyar C

Received 10 November 2017

Accepted for publication 26 January 2018

Published 27 March 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 35—42


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas Unnasch

Hasan S Merali,1 Mieko S Morgan,2,3 Chaweewon Boonshuyar3

1Department of Pediatrics, McMaster Children’s Hospital, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada; 2Services for Health in Asian and African Regions (SHARE), Phnom Penh, Cambodia; 3Faculty of Public Health, Thamasart University, Bangkok, Thailand

Purpose: Although Cambodia has made significant progress toward lowering the under-five mortality rate since 2000, diarrhea still accounts for 6% of the total number of these deaths. A vast majority of these deaths is preventable. In this study, we sought to examine diarrheal knowledge and preventative behaviors of caregivers of children under the age of 5 years, to determine caregiver factors associated with knowledge and behavior scores.
Patients and methods: This was a cross-sectional household-level study conducted in two floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia between January and February 2014. Caregivers of children under 5 years of age in the villages of Steung Trov and Moat Khla were asked 31 true or false questions to assess their knowledge of diarrhea. They also filled out a questionnaire to assess diarrhea preventative behaviors (DPBs). Comparison of mean scores to categorical caregiver variables was performed using one-way ANOVA analysis. Spearman’s rank correlation was applied to identify the relationship between the knowledge and preventative behavior scores and independent quantitative variables.
Results: A total of 101 caregivers of 161 children under 5 years of age were interviewed. The majority of them (85.1%) was classified as having good knowledge and scored >80% on the assessment. Those with Khmer ethnicity (mean=28.10) scored significantly higher than those with Vietnamese ethnicity (mean 26.00; p=0.004). Older age was correlated with higher knowledge scores (ρ=0.2260; p=0.023) and DPB scores (ρ=0.2320; p=0.019). Significant differences were found between the DPB score and ethnicity, educational background, and wealth (p<0.01).
Conclusion: Although the majority of caregivers had high diarrheal knowledge scores, preventative behaviors for diarrhea as assessed by this study were poor among almost all study participants. Vietnamese, wealthier, older, and more educated participants had better prevention scores. Future interventions in this remote region may benefit from these data as a guide to determine which specific preventative behaviors should be targeted.

Keywords: diarrhea, Cambodia, children

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