Mothers’ Hygiene Behaviour and Beliefs about Diarrhoea: A Case Study of a District in Eastern India

Ashalata Pati, M. Sivakami


The present study explores different dimensions of mothers’ hygiene behaviour such as hand washing practices, water hygiene, food hygiene, domestic hygiene and stool disposal practices and beliefs about diarrhoea in a diarrhoea-prone district of rural Odisha. Using mixed methods, information on various aspects of hygiene behaviour of mothers with under-five children was obtained. Three hygiene outcome variables namely mothers’ hand washing practices, treatment of water and domestic hygiene were analysed to understand the determinants of mothers’ hygiene behaviour. It is found that time spent on fetching water is significantly related to hand washing practices i.e., mothers who spend more than 30 minutes to fetch water have poor hygiene behaviour. Mothers’ education also plays an important role in hygiene behaviour. More than one-third of the mothers believe that diarrhoea is caused by taking wrong food, spoiled food and bad water. Providing personal and community hygiene education to improve the knowledge about causes for diarrhoea and easy access to water for the community could improve mothers’ hand washing practices and overall hygiene in the household.

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