Background: The mortality and morbidity from the diseases which contribute to the deaths among children can be reduced if early intervention is made in terms of appropriate care and treatment. Thus, utmost care should be taken to prevent diseases, recognize the danger signals, and treat them urgently. Thus, healthcare-seeking behavior is of prime importance and is pivotal in the well-being of the individual as well as the community. The aims of this research were to determine the possible factors that affect the healthcare-seeking behavior of mothers for their children in a tribal community of Narmada district and to determine the reasons for not seeking curative care for children who are perceived to be sick. 

Methods: A cross-sectional, community-based study of 405 mothers of the Dediyapada Block in Narmada District Gujarat, India, was undertaken, using a two-stage, cluster-sampling technique. The study was conducted from June through August 2011 using the questionnaire method. The chi squared test was used to determine the association between various factors and the healthcare-seeking behaviors of mothers.

Results: The mothers were in the age range of 17 to 44 years, with the mean (+SD) being 26.2+3.2 years. Ninety-one percent of the children, irrespective of gender, had completed their primary immunization. Regarding curative healthcare-seeking behavior, 16.5% of the males and 42% of the females received no treatment. Joint family structure (P<0.05, df=1, χ2=41.39), mass media exposure (P<0.05, df=1, χ2=16.42), literacy status (P<0.05, df=1, χ2=60.76), socioeconomic status of the mothers (P<0.05, df=1, χ2=56.08), and gender differences among children (P<0.05, df=1, χ2=21.18) were found to be associated significantly with the healthcare-seeking behavior of the mothers. 

Conclusion: Increased maternal education, generation of intensified awareness through the mass media approach, implementing gender-sensitive interventions, and counseling may have positive implications in the future, leading to better health outcomes and favorable health indicators.


Key words: gender differences, healthcare-seeking behavior, mothers