Self-care as a response to diarrhoea in rural Bangladesh: Empowered choice or enforced adoption?

Ross Edgeworth*, Andrew E. Collins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The literature is growing on the subject of coping strategies. However, with the exception of some work on the promotion of oral rehydration therapy (ORT), very few studies have examined coping strategies as a response to the ongoing diarrhoeal disease burden. This is particularly relevant in the case of self-care, previously documented as the most readily implemented treatment in the developing world and an increasingly common health behaviour in rural Bangladesh. This study analysed the socioeconomic factors that influence the adoption of self-care and the role that varied asset availability plays in relation to households choosing, or being forced to implement, a coping strategy. Qualitative methods were used to collect data from three villages in Nilphamari District, North West Bangladesh, in 2004. The findings produced a detailed picture of asset availability and its influence on household use of self-care treatment practices. The strong role of aspects of social capital in building human capital was highlighted, as well as how these aspects of social capital can assist household welfare through self-care in times of diarrhoeal disease. In contrast, households exhibiting weakened social and human capital were more excluded from information on appropriate self-care treatments. Development agencies and health care policies might therefore strengthen levels of household resilience to diarrhoeal disease more cost-effectively by focusing on activities that facilitate self-care through support of social networks and education channels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2686-2697
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2006


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