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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2011 Dec;85(6):1126-33. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2011.11-0171.

Examining the use of oral rehydration salts and other oral rehydration therapy for childhood diarrhea in Kenya.

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Reductions in the use of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) in sub-Saharan Africa highlight the need to examine caregiver perceptions of ORT during diarrheal episodes. Qualitative research involving group discussions with childcare providers and in-depth interviews with 45 caregivers of children < 5 years of age who had experienced diarrhea was conducted in one rural and urban site in Kenya during July-December 2007. Diarrhea was considered a dangerous condition that can kill young children. Caregivers preferred to treat diarrhea with Western drugs believed to be more effective in stopping diarrhea than ORT. Inconsistent recommendations from health workers regarding use of oral rehydration solution (ORS) caused confusion about when ORS is appropriate and whether it requires a medical prescription. In the rural community, causal explanations about diarrhea, beliefs in herbal remedies, cost, and distance to health facilities presented additional barriers to ORS use. Health communication is needed to clarify the function of ORT in preventing dehydration.

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