Knowledge and care seeking practices for ear infections among parents of under five children in Kigali, Rwanda: a cross-sectional study.
BACKGROUND: Infections affecting the middle ear are a common childhood occurrence. Some cases may present with ear discharge through a tympanic membrane perforation which may heal spontaneously. However, up to 5% or more cases of those affected have persistent ear discharge. A number of barriers contribute towards delayed presentation at health facilities for treatment of ear infections. We conducted a study to evaluate parents' and caregivers' knowledge and care seeking practices for ear infections in children under five in Gasabo district in Kigali, Rwanda. METHODS: Parents/guardians (n = 810) were interviewed using a structured questionnaire to elicit their knowledge of ear infections in children under five and their attitude to seeking care for their children. RESULTS: The mean age of the respondents was 31.27 years (SD = 7.88, range 17-83). Considering an average of knowledge parameters which included causes, symptoms, prevention, treatment and consequences of ear infections, we found that 76.6% (622) of respondents were knowledgeable about ear infections. We defined a positive practice as seeking medical treatment (community health workers or health facility) and this was found in 89.1% (722) respondents. Correlating knowledge with choice of seeking treatment, respondents were 33% less likely to practice medical pluralism (OR = 0.33, CI 0.11-0.97, P = 0.043) if they were familiar with infections. Moreover, urban dweller were 1.7 times more likely to know ear infections compared to rural dwellers (OR = 1.70, CI 1.22-2.38, P = 0.002). CONCLUSION: The majority of respondents had good knowledge and positive attitudes and practices about ear infection. However, medical pluralism was common. There is need to improve the community's awareness and access to primary health care facilities for the care of ear infections especially in rural areas of Rwanda.
Mukara, KB; Waiswa, P; Lilford, R; Tucci, DL
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