Perceptions and Health Care Seeking Practices of Guardians of Young Children Towards Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media in Machakos County, Kenya
Kamuti, Bernard Wambua
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Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM) occurs as a complication of untreated, or inadequately treated acute otitis media, commonly in the first five years of life. CSOM is related to poor socio-economic conditions and is the commonest cause of persistent mild to moderate hearing impairment in children and young people in developing countries. When the hearing loss associated with CSOM occurs during the first two years of life, it is likely to have serious effects on (the period of) language development of a young child, with sub-sequent delays in school progress. This study was therefore designed to determine the perceptions and health care seeking practices of guardians of young children towards CSOM in Machakos County. A cross sectional descriptive study using an interview schedule was carried out on 400 guardians with under five years old children seeking medical attention in two public health facilities in Machakos County. The main objective was to determine the prevalence, perceptions, health care seeking practices and the socio-demographic factors associated with CSOM in children. The study was conducted in one purposively selected health facility in each of the two conveniently selected districts. Probability proportional to size sampling method was used to determine the number of guardians to participate from each health facility. Data collected was processed using SPSS. Chi-square and contingency coefficient measure of association was used to determine the significance and extent of the relationship between the variables. CSOM was found in 12(3%) of the children and an overall prevalence rate of 0.03% calculated. There was a significant relationship between CSOM infection in young children and guardians’ relationship to child (p=0.008) and guardians age (p=0.003). However, there was no significant relationship between gender of child (p=0.958), birth position of child in the family (p=0.846), size of family (p=0.967), marital status (p=0.727), education level of guardian (p=0.349) and CSOM infection in young children. A large proportion of the guardians was aware of CSOM symptoms, but had limited knowledge on cause and associated factors. The guardians had the right perceptions on susceptibility, prevention, curability and outcome of untreated CSOM. Instilling chicken soup, gun oil and juice from traditional herbs in the ear were popular practices by the community. Sensitization program to the community, formulation and implementation of a policy on primary ear care by government and its stakeholders, and a national survey on prevalence of CSOM and other middle ear diseases are required.