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Soc Sci Med. 1993 Sep; 37(5): 649-60.

Maternal perceptions of pneumonia and pneumonia signs in Pakistani children.

Kundi MZ, Anjum M, Mull DS, Mull JD.

Department of Paediatrics, Rawalpindi General Hospital, Pakistan.

Fifty mothers of children attending a hospital outpatient clinic with non-severe pneumonia (fast breathing but no chest indrawing) were interviewed in depth. Maternal perceptions and practices with clinical significance were documented. Results showed that most mothers initially tried "heat-producing" home remedies designed to counter the "coldness" of the disease, allowed only 2 days for any particular allopathic medicine to work, and did not go to the same practitioner twice. When mothers were asked what had alarmed them enough to come to the hospital, the symptoms named most frequently were persistent severe cough and high fever, inability to sleep and excessive crying. Fast breathing was spontaneously mentioned by only a few, although when questioned, 32/50 said that they had noticed it. The mothers who had prior experience with child pneumonia were more likely to notice fast breathing and also came to the hospital earlier than those who were inexperienced. Relatively higher levels of maternal education and income were suggestively associated with bringing a female child rather than a male child for pneumonia treatment. Fewer than half of the mothers knew where air goes when a person breathes in and where the lungs are located. Most held treatment preferences at odds with the protocols proposed for the national ARI program currently being initiated in Pakistan, e.g. they said that a doctor should use a stethoscope, should prescribe suspensions rather than tablets and should give injections. This study provides baseline data on attitudes and behaviors that can either be built on in that program or addressed through public education campaigns.

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