Health care seeking behaviors for sick children: time span for seeking health care
Objective: Healthcare seeking behavior of caregivers for their children greatly varies. Especially for children, not to seek healthcare when it is necessary may cause serious consequences. The aim of this study is to determine the time span for seeking healthcare for children and factors related with it.
Methods: A cross-sectional / analytic design was chosen for the study. Participants were caregivers of 203 children registered to 3 family health units in İzmir / Bornova – Altındağ district. Data were collected via a questionnaire consisting of questions about demographic characteristics of children, caregivers and household as well as questions about the characteristics of current encounter and attitudes and behaviors of caregivers. Questionnaire was applied face to face.
Results: Average time for seeking health care was 4.0±5.3 days. 59.6% of caregivers stated that they gave medicine at home before coming to the doctor. Majority of the caregivers firstly tried to treat illness at home and sought for healthcare if symptoms did not regress or they progress. Fever significantly shortened admission time.
Conclusion: Caregivers who applied first time for a given complaint, those whose children have fever and those who state accessibility as a cause of waiting for seeing doctor go to their family physicians in a shorter time for children’s current.
Parents’ behavior on seeking medical care for their sick children differs from one another. It is well known that late applications to healthcare institutions may have severe results for children, including death. Primary care is the most suitable environment to regulate a person’s behavior on seeking medical care and being educated about it; relying on the trust between the family physician and the patient. That is why primary care physicians should know about the health care seeking behaviors of their patients. The purpose of this study is to determine the time it takes for parents to seek medical attention for their children who got ill and factors affecting it.
This cross-sectional, analytic study was done in the region of İzmir/Bornova-Altındağ district, including 203 children between the ages of 0-5 who were registered to three family practice units. The data was gathered using a survey that was filled with face to face interviews with children’s caregivers. A survey included questions about the demographic features of the children, the caregivers and the household as well as the reasons of the current encounter and the behavior of the caregivers regarding the issue. The data was analyzed using Chi-Square, Fischer’s Exact Test, Mann-Whitney U test and Kruskal Wallis tests methods in SPSS 15.0 package program. The significance value was accepted as p<0.05.
The mean age of the 203 children who participated in the study was 29.58 ± 17.40 months old and the median was 28 months. The ages of the providers differed between 18 and 72; the mean was 33.07±7.92 years and the median was 30 years. Primary provider for 91.1% of the children were their mothers (n=185). The decision to consult a family physician was taken mostly by the parents (94.6%, n=192). The time till consultation was between 1 and 30 days, with the mean value 3.96 ± 5.29 days and median value of 2 days.The 79.3% (n=161) of the consultations were the first contact with health professionals for that certain complaint; time span was significantly shorter for consultations for a reoccurring complaint. The main reason for delaying the consultation was perceiving the illness as mild; following reasons were Family Health Centers not being available outside of the working hours or on the weekend and socio-economic reasons.
Similarly when the participants were asked for the reason of consulting now, perceiving illness as serious was more prominent than availability or socio-economic reasons. 59.6% of the caregivers stated that they gave medicine to their children before the consultation. A significant number of the care givers first look for remedies themselves and if the child does not get better or the illness progresses, then they consult physicians. 86.2% of the participants (n=175) stated that it would quicken them to consult with physicians if the complaints included fever. Gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea were the fallowers. When the compliant of the child was examined specifically, it was confirmed that fever significantly shortened the duration for application. 92.1% of the participants first considered a family physician when they decided to consult a health institution. 59.1% of the participants (n=120) chose the institution because they were content with it, and 51.2% (n=104) of them chose it because it was the close.
According to our study’s results there is no relationship between the consultation time and the demographic features of the child and the caregiver. In our study more than half of the participants stated that they have given medicine to the child before consulting with the physician. Similarly caregivers stated that they would primarily apply home remedies when they children got sick. These results are relevant with other studies. Individuals who are responsible for taking care of children should be educated for evaluating the seriousness of symptoms.
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