UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Assets and challenges facing caregivers when managing malaria in young children in rural Uganda Kassam, Rosemin; Collins, John; Sekiwunga, Richard


Background: Despite efforts to improve malaria management for children, a substantial gap remains between policy and practice in Uganda. The aim of this study was to create quantitative profiles of assets and challenges facing caregivers in Butaleja District when managing malaria in children aged 5 years and under. The objectives were: (1) to estimate caregivers’ assets and challenges during an acute episode; and, (2) to ascertain which caregiver attributes influenced receipt of an appropriate anti-malarial the most. Methods Data from a 2011 cross-sectional, household survey and ten psychometrically justified scales were used to estimate caregivers’ assets and challenges. The scales scores were simple counts across a series of items, for example, the number of times a caregiver answered a knowledge item correctly or the number of times a caregiver relied on a credible source for information. Since high scores on six of the scales reflected attributes that eased the burden of caregiving, these were labelled ‘caregiver assets’. Similarly, high scores on four of the measures signalled that a caregiver was having trouble managing the malaria episode, thereby reflecting deficits, and these were labelled ‘caregiver challenges’. ANOVAs were used to compare scale scores between caregivers of children who received an appropriate anti-malarial versus those who did not. Results On the six asset scales, caregivers averaged highest on knowledge (65 %), followed by correct episode management (48 %), use of trustworthy information sources (40 %), ability to initiate or redirect their child’s treatment (37 %), and lowest on possible encounters with health professionals to assist in treatment decisions (33 %). Similarly, the average caregiver reported problems with 74 % of the issues they might encounter in accessing advice, and 56 % of the problems in obtaining the best anti-malarial. Caregivers whose children received an appropriate anti-malarial demonstrated greater assets and fewer challenges than those whose child did not, with important regional differences existing. Overall, no one region performed particularly well across all ten scales. Conclusions Findings from this study suggest that the low use of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) in Butaleja for children 5 years and under may result from caregivers’ high perceived barrier to accessing ACT and low perceived benefits from ACT.

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