Fear of oxygen therapy for children in Malawi

Anna Clare Stevenson, Christopher Edwards, Josephine Langton, Collins Zamawe, Neil Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Although pneumonia is a common cause of death in children in Malawi, healthcare staff frequently encounter patients or carers who refuse oxygen therapy. This qualitative study documents factors that influence acceptance or refusal of oxygen therapy for children in Malawi.

METHODS: Nine group interviews involving 86 participants were held in community and hospital settings in rural and urban Malawi. Eleven in-depth interviews of healthcare staff providing oxygen were held in a central hospital. Thematic analysis of transcripts of the audio recordings was carried out to identify recurring themes.

RESULTS: Similar ideas were identified in the group interviews and in-depth staff interviews. Past experiences of oxygen use (direct and indirect, positive and negative) had a strong influence on views of oxygen. A recurrent theme was fear of oxygen, often due to a perceived association between death and recent oxygen use. Fears were intensified by a lack of familiarity with equipment used to deliver oxygen, distrust of medical staff and concerns about cost of oxygen.

CONCLUSIONS: This study identifies reasons for refusal of oxygen therapy for children in a low-income country. Findings from the study suggest that training of healthcare staff to address fears of parents, and information, education and communication (IEC) approaches that improve public understanding of oxygen and provide positive examples of its use are likely to be helpful in improving uptake of oxygen therapy in Malawi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-91
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Issue number3
Early online date25 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Malawi
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy
  • Treatment Refusal
  • Young Adult


Dive into the research topics of 'Fear of oxygen therapy for children in Malawi'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this