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Int Health. 2011 Sep;3(3):199-205. doi: 10.1016/j.inhe.2011.04.001.

Reported healthcare utilisation for childhood respiratory illnesses in Vellore, South India.

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  • 1Low Cost Effective Care Unit (LCECU), Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore, India.


A 30-cluster survey using a modified WHO method was performed to assess the healthcare utilisation patterns for respiratory illnesses in Indian children < 5 years of age. Families of 600 children were interviewed to assess respiratory illness and healthcare utilisation during the previous month as well as hypothetical healthcare-seeking behaviour in the future. Based on parental report, 381 children (63.5%) had experienced a respiratory illness 1 month prior to the interview; 10 children were reported to have had severe pneumonia, 49 non-severe pneumonia and 322 upper respiratory illnesses (URI), extrapolating to 0.20 (95% CI 0.1-0.4), 0.98 (0.7-1.3) and 6.44 (6.0-6.9) cases per child-year, respectively. Five severe pneumonia cases (50%) were reported to have directly accessed care at a secondary or tertiary care centre, whilst 18 children (36.7%) with non-severe pneumonia and 56 children (17.4%) with URI were reported to have been seen at secondary or tertiary centres. The remaining respiratory illnesses were reported to have been seen by primary care physicians, pharmacists, traditional healers and friends or were not seen by a healthcare professional. This community-based Indian study suggests that, in this community, tertiary care surveillance alone may not accurately sample community disease, even for severe illnesses.

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