Effect of socioeconomic status on caregivers' knowledge and beliefs regarding child health care in Savelugu Nanton, Ghana
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Overview: A primary caregivers’ knowledge about child health can have a significant impact on her practices, which in turn can affect child growth and development. The main objective of the study was to explore the level of caregiver’s knowledge and beliefs about the treatment of diarrhoea and child nutrition and to find out whether caregivers’ socio-economic status influences their knowledge and beliefs. Methods: In this study, the data used were from the Savelugu- Nanton Household Survey which was collected by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in collaboration with the Food and Nutrition Security Unit at the University for Development Studies in 2001. It was a cross sectional survey of information collected from caregivers of children from ages 0-38 months (N=1588).The study measured caregivers’ knowledge and beliefs which comprised of questions related to treatment of diarrhoea and the identification of micronutrient rich food. Measures of socio-economic characteristics included distance to primary fuel source, distance to primary water source during rainy season, compound cleanliness, total non food household expenditure, total food household expenditures, household per capita expenditure, number of food groups consumed at household level, household experience of food shortages and sleeping density. This study is the first to explore what caregivers know and believe about child nutrition and treatment of diarrhoea in Savelugu Nanton and also the first in that region to examine what social determinants might be associated with caregivers’ level of knowledge. The statistical analysis was performed using vi SPSS for windows, version 17.0 . Descriptive statistics of all the variables were computed. A bivariate comparison was also performed with Pearson's correlations on a two-tailed analysis. A Binary logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the best prediction of a dependent variable from the two socioeconomic factors which were statistically significant with the index knowledge variable. Results: Distributions of the knowledge score showed that 75 percent of primary caregivers’ in the region had high level knowledge, whilst 25 percent of the primary caregivers had low knowledge level on child health care. There was a significant relationship between the socioeconomic indicators in this study and the level of caregivers’ knowledge caregivers regarding child health and nutrition. However, among the SES indicators represented by total distance to primary fuel source (r = .069**, n=1588, p<.001) and household experiences food shortages (r = .052*, n=1588, p<.05) had the strongest correlation with knowledge index of caregivers in Savelugu Nanton. Further analysis of these two variables using the binary logistic regression showed that as travelling distance for fuel increases by a kilometre, the likelihood of caregivers having adequate knowledge of child health care decreases .721 times. Moreover, for caregivers who live in households that never experiences food shortages, the likelihood of having high level knowledge regarding child health care knowledge increases by 1.68 times. Discussion and Conclusions. Results from the studies showed that, knowledge of primary caregivers regarding child health and nutrition was very high in the region suggesting that irrespective of their socioeconomic status, majority of the caregivers in the region are knowledgeable and definitely have an adequate child health care knowledge. This indicates that in Savelugu Nanton, socioeconomic status is not a very good predictor of child health knowledge of caregivers. The result of the study supports the hypothesis that caregivers with high socioeconomic status will score high on the knowledge index question regarding child health care and vice versa. From this study, there was a significant association between SES variables represented by distance to primary fuel source and household experiences food shortages and the level of a primary caregiver’s knowledge regarding child health in Savelugu Nanton District, Ghana. These findings in particular are in agreement to most of the general perception held in the literature which concluded that higher SES is associated with better child health and vice versa. The result of the study will help policy makers in designing of interventions programmes on better child health care for caregivers of children in the district. Firstly, health education and skills development programs for primary caregivers should be designed to improve the outreach and effectiveness of child health messages that local health care providers’ disseminate. Secondly, community actions such as the use of self help and support group for caregivers’ should be formed to empower and encourage the caregivers in gaining the right knowledge and attitudes towards better child health care. Thirdly, health education programs on basic child health care should be taught to all primary school children before they drop out of school.Further studies will therefore be needed in future, to research into how caregivers acquire their health information and to investigate more into the caregivers’ who score high on the knowledge score.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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