Predictors of Mothers’ Care Seeking Behavior for Common Childhood Illnesses: Findings From the Afghanistan Health Survey 2015

Document Type : Original Article


1 The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2 Global Health Development/Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (GHD/ EMPHNET), Amman, Jordan

3 Afghanistan Field Epidemiology Training Program, Afghanistan National Public Health Institute, Kabul, Afghanistan

4 Afghanistan Pediatric Association, Kabul, Afghanistan

5 Agency for Assistance and Development of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan

6 Jhpiego, Kabul, Afghanistan


Mothers’ care seeking behavior for childhood illness is a key factor of utilizing healthcare for children. We examined predictors of mothers’ care seeking for common childhood illnesses.
This was a cross-sectional study, using data from the Afghanistan Health Survey (AHS) 2015. Data were used from women who sought healthcare for their unwell children. The women were asked whether their children were sick with fever, cough, faster breathing, or diarrhea in the past 2 weeks. The outcome variable was defined as whether the mother sought healthcare for her unwell child from a public clinic, a private clinic, or from a pharmacy store. The Andersen’s healthcare seeking behavior model was used and multinomial regression analysis applied.
There were 4979 women, aged 15-49 years, whose under-5 children were sick in the past 2 weeks. Thirty-nine percent of women sought healthcare for their children from a health provider. Mother’s age, child’s age, child’s sex, socioeconomic status, mothers’ perceived severity of childhood illness, and number of under-5 children were predictors of mothers’ care seeking behavior. The likelihood of healthcare seeking was lower for older children (Adjusted odds ratio [OR] [95% CI]: 0.51 [0.37-0.70] from public clinics; 0.33 [0.23-0.47] from private clinics; 0.36 [0.22-0.61] from pharmacy stores), and for girls (Adjusted OR [95% CI]: 0.74 [0.59-0.93] from private clinics). The likelihood of healthcare seeking was greater for children whose mothers knew symptoms of childhood illness (Adjusted OR [95% CI]: 2.97 [1.44-6.16] from public clinics; 7.20 [3.04-17.04] from pharmacy stores). The likelihood of healthcare seeking for children was greater in older mothers (Adjusted OR [95% CI]: 1.54 [1.11-2.12]). It was less likely for the mothers who have more children to seek healthcare for their children (Adjusted OR [95% CI]: 0.53 [0.43-0.65] from public clinics; 0.61 [0.48- 0.79] from private clinics; 0.51 [0.37-0.69] from pharmacy stores).
Health policy-makers may opt to use our findings, particularly mothers’ knowledge (perceived severity) of symptoms of childhood illness to develop interventions to enhance timely assessment and effective treatment of common preventable childhood illnesses.


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  • Receive Date: 05 August 2022
  • Revise Date: 10 October 2023
  • Accept Date: 28 October 2023
  • First Publish Date: 29 October 2023