To explore the caretakers' care-seeking pattern and its determinants among children under 36 months old with diarrhea in rural western China.
The data of 14112 households was collected in 45 counties of 10 provinces of western China from June to August 2005. A generalized estimated equation (GEE) linear model was used to identify the determinants of the care-seeking.
Village-level and township-level care were sought for childhood diarrhea by 67.02% of the caretakers. GEE model analysis shows that compared with the caretakers of the children delivered at county-level or above hospitals, those of the children delivered at home seldom sought a higher level care (−0.23, 95%CI: −0.45,−0.01, p = 0.040); that the age of the children was negatively associated with seeking a higher level care (12 vs 36 months: 0.35, 95%CI: 0.16,0.55, p<0.001; 24 vs 36 months: 0.26, 95%CI: 0.08,0.44, p = 0.004); that the more danger signs of diarrhea the caretakers recognized, the higher level care they sought for their children with diarrhea (0.04, 95%CI: 0.00,0.07, p = 0.037); that the children with breastfeeding were given a higher level care than those without (0.15, 95%CI: 0.01,0.28, p = 0.035); that the mothers with a higher education sought the higher level care than those with only primary education (0.29, 95%CI: 0.03,0.56, p = 0.032); and that the farther the villages where these caretakers lived were from their townships, the lower level care for their children with diarrhea they sought (−0.09, 95%CI: −0.18,−0.01, p = 0.039).
Village-level and township-level care were sought for childhood diarrhea by most of the caretakers. Birth settings, the distance from village to township, maternal education, caretakers' awareness of the danger signs of diarrhea, breastfeeding status and age of children affected the care-seeking. These findings may have some implications for the improvement of health care services and care-seeking intervention against childhood diarrhea in rural western China.