Poor healthcare-seeking behaviour is a major contributing factor for increased morbidity and mortality among children in low- and middle-income countries. This study assessed the individual and community level factors associated with healthcare-seeking behaviour for childhood illnesses among mothers of children under five in Chad.
The study utilized data from the 2014-2015 Chad Demographic and Health Survey. A total of 5,693 mothers who reported that their children under five had either fever accompanied by cough or diarrhea or both within the two weeks preceding the survey were included in this study. The outcome variable for the study was healthcare-seeking behaviour for childhood illnesses. The data were analyzed using Stata version 14.2. Multilevel binary logistic regression model was employed due to the hierarchical nature of the dataset. Results were presented as adjusted odds ratios (aOR) at 95% confidence interval (CI).
Out of the 5,693 mothers who reported that their children under five had either fever accompanied by cough, diarrhea or both at any time in the 2 weeks preceding the survey, 79.6% recalled having sought treatment for their children's illnesses. In terms of the individual level factors, mothers who faced financial barriers to healthcare access were less likely to seek healthcare for childhood illnesses, relative to those who faced no financial barrier (aOR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.65-0.99). Mothers who reported that distance to the health facility was a barrier were less likely to seek healthcare for childhood illnesses, compared to those who faced no geographical barrier to healthcare access (aOR = 79, 95% CI = 0.65-0.95). Mothers who were cohabiting were less likely to seek healthcare for childhood illnesses compared to married mothers (aOR = 0.62 95% CI = 0.47-0.83). Lower odds of healthcare seeking for childhood illnesses was noted among mothers who did not listen to radio at all, relative to those who listened to radio at least once a week (aOR = 0.71, 95% CI = 0.55- 0.91). Mothers who mentioned that their children were larger than average size at birth had a lesser likelihood of seeking childhood healthcare, compared to those whose children were of average size (aOR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.66-0.95). We further noted that with the community level factors, mothers who lived in communities with medium literacy level were less likely to seek childhood healthcare than those in communities with high literacy (aOR = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.53-0.99).
The study revealed that both individual (financial barriers to healthcare access, geographical barriers to healthcare access, marital status, frequency of listening to radio and size of children at birth) and community level factors (community level literacy) are associated with healthcare-seeking behaviour for childhood illnesses in Chad. The government of Chad, through multi-sectoral partnership, should strengthen health systems by removing financial and geographical barriers to healthcare access. Moreover, the government should create favourable conditions to improve the status of mothers and foster their overall socio-economic wellbeing and literacy through employment and education. Other interventions should include community sensitization of cohabiting mothers and mothers with children whose size at birth is large to seek healthcare for their children when they are ill. This can be done using radio as means of information dissemination.
We acknowledge Measure DHS for providing us with the data.
© 2021 Budu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.