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Multilevel Analysis of Factors Associated with Treatment-Seeking Behaviors among Caregivers with Febrile Children in Malawi
Authors: Owen Nkoka, Ting-Wu Chuang, and Yi-Hua Chen
Source: American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Online First; DOI: 10.4269/ajtmh.18-0900
Topic(s): Child health
Children under five
Fever
Health equity
Country: Africa
  Malawi
Published: APR 2019
Abstract: Early diagnosis and treatment of childhood fever, an important sign of potentially serious infections such as malaria, is essential for controlling disease progression, and ultimately, preventing deaths. This study examined individual- and community-level factors associated with treatment-seeking behaviors and promptness in these behaviors among caregivers of febrile under-five children in Malawi. The 2015–2016 Malawi Demographic Health Survey was used to analyze a nationally representative sample of 4,133 under-five children who had fever within 2 weeks before the survey. A multilevel logistic regression model was used to examine the association between individual- and community-level factors and treatment-seeking behaviors. Approximately 67.3% of the caregivers reported seeking treatment for their febrile child, whereas only 46.3% reported promptly seeking treatment. Children from communities with moderate and high percentages of educated caregivers were more likely to be taken for treatment (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.26, 95% CI = 1.01–1.58 and aOR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.02–1.70, respectively) than those from communities with a low percentage of educated caregivers. Children from communities with moderate and high percentages of caregivers complaining about the distance to a health facility were less likely to be taken for treatment (aOR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.58–0.96 and aOR = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.51–0.88, respectively). At the individual level, having a cough in the last 2 weeks, region, religion, and having better health behaviors in other health dimensions were associated with fever treatment-seeking behaviors among Malawian caregivers. Programs aimed at improving treatment-seeking behaviors should consider these factors and the regional variations observed in this study.