Knowledge and Beliefs about Ear and Hearing Health among Mothers of Young Children in a Rural Community in South India


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16 pp

Purpose: To study the knowledge and beliefs about ear and hearing healthcare among mothers from a rural community.


Method: In 1 week, 6 focus group discussions were conducted across 6 villages of a district in Tamil Nadu in southern India. The participants were 60 mothers who had children below 5 years of age.


Results: Mothers in this rural community had information about some aspects of ear and hearing healthcare. They were aware that use of hairpins and safety- pins to clean ears was harmful; they were knowledgeable about ways to identify hearing ability (child responds to name call, verbal instructions, and startles at loud sounds); and, conditions like consanguinity and malnutrition of expectant mothers were recognised as risk factors for hearing loss. However, misconceptions also existed. The practice of pouring herbal juices to remove insects in the ear continued; there was the perception that all children with a hearing problem were “deaf”, and a lack of awareness about the possibility of partial/unilateral hearing loss. Regarding the age of identification, mothers believed that a child’s ability to speak and the ability to hear was pertinent to assess hearing. None of the mothers related normal speech development to normal hearing.


Conclusion: For the success of a community-based hearing screening programme, it is important to utilise the existing knowledge of the mothers, and simultaneously attempt to fill in gaps in knowledge and clarify misconceptions. These measures will facilitate greater compliance from the community in achieving the goals of early identification and early intervention for problems of hearing loss.

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