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Mothers' perceptions of severe pneumonia in their own children: A controlled study in Pakistan


  • Mull, Dorothy S.
  • Mull, J.Dennis
  • Kundi, M.Z.Malik
  • Anjum, Muhammad


In 1992, 320 mothers were interviewed in a Rawalpindi hospital to identify which of the signs and symptoms they saw in their own children were most consistently linked with a clinical diagnosis of pneumonia as opposed to common cold. A related goal was to determine whether mothers could correctly judge the actual presence or absence of two major pneumonia signs--fast breathing and chest indrawing. The mothers were predominantly poor and 43% were illiterate. The study sample was composed of four matched groups: (1) mothers of 80 children with pneumonia, most with severe disease, interviewed after the child was referred to the ward; (2) mothers of 80 such children interviewed in the outpatient clinic prior to any discussion of the pneumonia diagnosis; (3) mothers of 80 children with common cold; and (4) mothers of 80 'well' children. Results showed that when mothers were interviewed in the clinic, their perception that a child had fast breathing and/or chest indrawing was highly correlated with pneumonia (sensitivity 64%, specificity 90%). Mothers were even more likely to say that a child had these signs after the pneumonia diagnosis had been conveyed, suggesting that interaction with doctors influenced their views. Fast breathing was better recognized than chest indrawing, and accurate diagnosis of both signs was better among mothers having prior experience with childhood pneumonia. The data suggest that even in the absence of formal ARI education, a majority of Pakistani mothers attending hospitals in indigent areas can recognize these two signs in their own children. However, the seriousness of the signs and their connection with pneumonia should be stressed in education campaigns since a high percentage of children had chest indrawing (a late sign of severe disease) by the time they were brought to the hospital.

Suggested Citation

  • Mull, Dorothy S. & Mull, J.Dennis & Kundi, M.Z.Malik & Anjum, Muhammad, 1994. "Mothers' perceptions of severe pneumonia in their own children: A controlled study in Pakistan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 973-987, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:38:y:1994:i:7:p:973-987

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    Cited by:

    1. Qazi Shafayetul Islam & Syed Masud Ahmed & Mohammad Nasir Uddin Khan, 2011. "Revisiting the ARI Programme of BRAC: How Well are We Doing?," Working Papers id:4347, eSocialSciences.


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