Engaging mothers on the growth of school-age children in a rural south african health and demographic site: A qualitative insight

Perpetua Modjadji*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A qualitative study was conducted to explore mothers’ insights on the growth of schoolage children in a rural Health and Demographic site of Limpopo Province, in South Africa. The participants were selected using purposive sampling. Data were collected from seven focus group discussions, which were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. NVivo10 was used to analyse interview transcripts, following qualitative thematic analysis. Fifty-four mothers aged between 27 and 52 years were interviewed. Unfavourable sociodemographic status with poor living conditions of mothers were observed, particularly in terms of unemployment, minimal tertiary education, and rural locality. The perceptions of mothers on child growth linked growth of their children to various factors such as poverty and socioeconomic status, genetic/family heredity, and household environment. Mothers further related child growth to purchasing power and decisions regarding types of food, food unavailability, affordability issues, feeding beliefs and practices; and child food preferences, school feeding schemes, and maternal and societal cultural beliefs and practices. Despite their concerns, mothers perceived that their children were growing well, but differently. It is worth noting that the views of mothers on child growth were up to their aptitude level and might have been restricted due to their level of education and rural locality. Hence, there is a need for novel information, education, and communication strategies to effectively reach mothers, especially in rural areas, regarding the importance of identifying children with growth failure and its prevention. Mothers should be able to identify when a child is affected by growth failure and to seek healthcare, in order to prevent children from progressing to severe forms. This study informs on the timing of nutritional interventions for children and context-specific health promotion and health education programs to improve the knowledge of mothers on child growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number225
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Growth
  • Mothers
  • Qualitative research
  • Rural context
  • School-age children
  • South Africa


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