"We need people to collaborate together against this disease": A qualitative exploration of perceptions of dengue fever control in caregivers' of children under 5 years, in the Peruvian Amazon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • School of Pharmacy, College of Medical & Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
  • Facultdad de medicina humana, Universidad de la Amazonia Peruana


BACKGROUND: Dengue Fever presents a significant and growing burden of disease to endemic countries, where children are at particular risk. Worldwide, no effective anti-viral treatment has been identified, thus vector control is key for disease prevention, particularly in Peru where no vaccine is currently available. This qualitative study aimed to explore the perceptions of dengue control in caregivers' of children under 5 years in Peru, to help direct future mosquito control programmes and strategy.

METHODS: Eighteen semi-structured interviews were conducted in one health centre in Iquitos, Peru. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and translated by an independent translator. Data were analysed using an inductive thematic approach.

FINDINGS: Three core analytic themes were interpreted: (1) awareness of dengue and its control, (2) perceived susceptibility of children, rural riverside communities and city inhabitants, and (3) perceived responsibility of vector control. Participants were aware of dengue symptoms, transmission and larvae eradication strategies. Misconceptions about the day-time biting behaviour of the Aedes aegypti mosquito and confusion with other mosquito-borne diseases influenced preventative practice. Community-wide lack of cooperation was recognised as a key barrier. This was strengthened by attitudes that the government or health centre were responsible for dengue control and a belief that the disease cannot be prevented through individual actions. Participants felt powerless to prevent dengue due to assumed inevitability of infection and lack of faith in preventative practices. However, children and rural communities were believed to be most vulnerable.

CONCLUSIONS: Perceptions of dengue control amongst caregivers to under 5's were important in shaping their likelihood to participate in preventative practices. There is a need to address the perceived lack of community cooperation through strategies creating a sense of ownership of community control and enhancing social responsibility. The belief that dengue cannot be prevented by individual actions in a community also warrants attention. Specific misconceptions about dengue should be addressed through the community health worker system and further research directed to identify the needs of certain vulnerable groups.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0005755
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2017


  • Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Caregivers, Dengue, Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Interviews as Topic, Male, Middle Aged, Mosquito Control, Peru, Young Adult, Journal Article