Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33273. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033273. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Caregiver recognition of childhood diarrhea, care seeking behaviors and home treatment practices in rural Burkina Faso: a cross-sectional survey.

Author information

Department of Nutrition, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.



To design effective national diarrhea control programs, including oral rehydration solution (ORS) and therapeutic zinc supplementation, information is needed on local perceptions of illness, external care seeking behaviors, and home treatment practices.


A cross-sectional, community-based household survey was conducted in the Orodara Health District, Burkina Faso. Caregivers of 10,490 children <27 months were interviewed to assess child diarrhea prevalence and related care practices. Characteristics of households, caregivers, children, and reported illnesses were compared for those caregivers who did or did not recognize the presence of diarrhea, as defined according to clinical criteria (≥ 3 liquid or semi-liquid stools/day). Multiple logistic regression models were used to examine factors associated with illness recognition and treatment.


Clinically defined diarrhea was present in 7.6% (95% CI: 7.1-8.1%) of children during the 24 hours preceding the survey but recognized by only 55% of caregivers. Over half (55%) of the caregivers of 1,067 children with a clinically defined diarrhea episode in the past 14 days sought care outside the home; 78% of those seeking care attended a public sector clinic. Care was sought and treatment provided more frequently for children with fever, vomiting, anorexia, longer illness duration, and those living closer to the health center; and care was sought more frequently for male children. 80% of children with recent diarrhea received some form of treatment; only 24% received ORS, whereas 14% received antibiotics. Zinc was not yet available in the study area.


Caregivers frequently fail to recognize children's diarrhea, especially among younger infants and when illness signs are less severe. Treatment practices do not correspond with international recommendations in most cases, even when caregivers consult with formal health services. Child caregivers need additional assistance to recognize diarrhea correctly, and both caregivers and health care providers need updated training on current diarrhea treatment recommendations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center