Background: This study aimed to investigate the differences in reported care seeking behaviour and treatment between children with pneumonia and children without pneumonia with cough and/or difficult breathing.
Methods: Three hundred and two children aged 0-59 months with fast breathing pneumonia were matched with 302 children seeking care for cough and/or difficult breathing at four outpatient clinics in Ibadan, Nigeria. After follow up at home, Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) questionnaires were administered in the community by trained field workers to gather information around care seeking delay, patterns of care seeking, appropriateness of care seeking and treatment provided once care was sought. Multivariable analysis was carried out to determine significant factors associated with care seeking delay.
Results: Children with pneumonia had a significantly longer delay (median = 3d) before seeking care than those without pneumonia (median = 2d; P = 0.001). The length of the delay was 21% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1%-42%) greater in those aged 0-1 month and 11% (95% CI = 5%-42%) greater in those aged 2-11 months compared to those aged 12-59 months. The length of delay was 17% (95% CI = 5%-30%) greater in rural locations than urban ones, and 33% (95% CI = 7%-51%) shorter in fathers with only primary education compared to higher education, adjusted for covariates. The range of places where care was sought showed the same distribution in those with and without pneumonia. Twenty two per cent of those with pneumonia sought care first from inappropriate providers. The number of children for whom caregivers reported having received antibiotic treatment was 92% for those with pneumonia and 84% for those without pneumonia.
Conclusions: Given that children with pneumonia and cough/cold had similar patterns of reported care seeking information gathered on care seeking (type of provider visited) from DHS and MICS surveys on those with 'symptoms of acute respiratory infection' in this setting provide a reasonably valid indication of care seeking behaviours in children with pneumonia. There are high levels of antibiotic overuse for children with cough/cold in this setting which risks worsening antibiotic resistance.