Impact of caregivers’ education regarding respiratory infections on the health status of day-care children: a randomized trial

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Abstract

Background.

Acute respiratory infections are the most common illness in childhood, and caregivers often make an excessive use of medication and medical consultations. It is vital to design and implement educational interventions in order to minimize the burden of the disease.

Objective.

This study aimed to evaluate the impact of a health education session (HES) about respiratory infections on the indicators of individual health and health care utilization of day-care children.

Methods.

Randomized controlled trial in 10 day-care centres in Porto, including caregivers (parents or legal tutors) of children under 3 years of age. Children’s caregivers were randomly distributed into an Intervention Group (IG), who attended a HES, and a Comparison Group (CG). Children’s indicators of individual health and health care utilization were evaluated in both groups, during the month after HES.

Results.

Children whose caregivers attended to the HES had fewer lower respiratory tract infections (IG = 5.8%; CG = 19.0%; P = 0.050) and fewer acute otitis media (IG = 9.5%; CG = 27.0%; P = 0.030), as well as fewer medical consultations (IG = 38.5% versus CG = 61.9%; P = 0.015) and less antibiotic consumption (IG = 11.5% versus CG = 29.5%; P = 0.022). They were also less absent from day care (IG = 21 days versus CG = 59 days; P = 0.037) and their caregivers were less absent from work (IG = 15 days versus CG = 44 days; P = 0.046). Caregivers who attended HES made more use of nasal irrigation (IG = 79.6% versus CG = 53.3%; P = 0.011).

Conclusions.

The HES about respiratory infections has positively influenced the indicators of individual health and health care utilization of children attending day-care centres in Porto.

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