Galvin, K., Petford, N., Ajose, F. and Davies, D. (2011) An exploratory qualitative study on perceptions about mosquito bed nets in the Niger Delta: what are the barriers to sustained use? Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare.4, pp. 73-83. 1178-2390.
Background: The effectiveness of malaria control programs is determined by an array of complex factors, including the acceptability and sustained use of preventative measures such as the bed net. A small-scale exploratory study was conducted in several locations in the Niger Delta region, Nigeria, to discover barriers against the use of bed nets, in the context of a current drive to scale up net use in Nigeria. Methods: A qualitative approach with a convenience sample was used. One to one interviews with mostly male adult volunteers were undertaken which explored typical living and sleeping arrangements, and perceptions about and barriers against the use of the mosquito prevention bed net. Results: Several key issues emerged from the qualitative data. Bed nets were not reported as widely used in this small sample. The reasons reported for lack of use included issues of convenience, especially net set up and dismantling; potential hazard and safety concerns; issues related to typical family composition and nature of accommodation; humid weather conditions; and perceptions of cost and effectiveness. Most barriers to net use concerned issues about everyday practical living and sleeping arrangements and perceptions about comfort. Interviewees identified were aware of malaria infection risks, but several also indicated certain beliefs that were barriers to net use. Conclusions: Successful control of malaria and scale up of insecticide-treated net coverage relies on community perceptions and practice. This small study has illuminated a number of important everyday life issues, which remain barriers to sustained net use, and has clarified further questions to be considered in net design and in future research studies. The study highlights the need for further research on the human concerns that contribute to sustained use of nets or, conversely, present significant barriers to their use.