Health seeking behaviour : maternal care giving to preschoolers in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
Dladla-Qwabe, Anna Nozizwe.
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This dissertation is an examination of salient factors that influence the health seeking behaviour of mothers/caregivers of pre-school children in Kwangwanase, KwaZuluNatal province, South Africa. Health seeking behaviour for pre-school children is poorly understood, and is influenced by an array of complex factors that inhibit full utilisation of available health services. Amongst other things, health-seeking behaviour is influenced by cultural beliefs about children's illnesses as well as the local availability of treatment options, and the perceived quality of care provided. This dissertation represents the findings of a combined qualitative and quantitative research approach using free listing, pile sorts, interview schedules, logbooks and observation to explore health-seeking behaviour. Research focussed on the local knowledge held in relation to childhood illnesses that affect children under age six, along with the explanatory models used to discern causation and shape decisions regarding treatment and care. Mothers and caregivers of Kwangwanase draw upon their existing knowledge of children's illnesses, including notions of disease causation, when making diagnoses and deciding between home treatments and professional consultation. Mothers and caregivers pay close attention to the well being of small children. They are constantly involved in the routine management of health and illness. Various treatment options are utilised in a pragmatic way, as mothers and caregivers pick and choose from all available health resources as and when they see fit. Cultural beliefs, accessibility, religious views and other factors influence their choice of health service. Depending on the quality of the care provided and the outcome of the therapeutic intervention, mothers and caregivers are likely to consult several different health care providers in a sequential manner.
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