Factors affecting health seeking behavior for common childhood illnesses in Yemen
Hana Hasan Webair, Abdulla Salim Bin-Gouth
Department of Family Medicine, Hadhramout University of Science and Technology, Almukalla, Hadhramout, Yemen
Introduction: Appropriate medical care seeking could prevent a significant number of child deaths and complications due to ill health. This study aims to determine factors affecting health seeking behavior (HSB) for childhood illnesses, thereby improving child survival.
Methods: A cross sectional study was carried out from January 11 to April 2, 2012. A total of 212 caretakers of children under the age of 5 years participated. Caretakers who visited the vaccination unit in the Shehair Health Center during the study period and had a child with a history of diarrhea, fever, cough, and/or difficulty of breathing during the last 14 days were included. The data were collected by interviewing caretakers and the answers were reported in pretested structured questionnaires.
Results: Medical care was sought for about half of the sick children (n=109, 51.42%). Seeking medical care was frequently initiated for illnesses that did not improve or worsened. The major reasons for not seeking medical care were "illness was mild" (n=40, 38.83%) and "illness is not for medical treatment" (n=32, 31.07%). The caretakers sought medical care significantly more when they had a higher level of school education (POR [prevalence odds ratio] 5.85, 95% CI [confidence interval]: 2.34–14.61), when the illness was perceived as severe (POR 5.39, 95% CI: 2.81–10.33), and when the child had difficulty of breathing (POR 2.93, 95% CI: 1.10–7.80).
Conclusion: For the preventable childhood illnesses with existing interventions, appropriate HSB prevalence is low. Symptom type, caretakers' education, and perception of illness severity are the predictors of HSB. Educational improvement of the mothers, introduction of community based integrated management of childhood illness, and in-depth research are imperative to improve mothers' HSB.
Keywords: Shehair Health Center, childhood survival, cross sectional, medical care