A survey on Knowledge and perceptions regarding head lice on a sample of teachers and students in primary schools of north and south of Italy

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Abstract

High rates of pediculosis are found in every part of the world.The age-range most affected is between 3 and 12 years. No-nitpolicies are ineffective in preventing infestations. On the otherhand, misdiagnosis and overuse of pediculicides, increase resistanceto treatment. Lack of information leads people to considerthis kind of infestation to be associated to low social classesand immigrants.This research has been implemented to find out about theinformation level on pediculosis on a sample of students (722)and teachers (408) of some primary schools in northern andsouthern Italy, and to highlight the role of personal aspectssuch as age, gender, cultural level, geographical position whichmay influence this topic and, eventually, allow the use of thecorrect knowledge in developing appropriate procedures withinthe school district. Data was obtained through a questionnairecontaining 21 multiple choice questions for the teachers and 14for the students. Standard descriptive statistics were computed.χ2 tests were applied to highlight statistical association amongobserved variables; test for the difference of two proportionswere applied to confirm significant differences among theobserved proportions.The level of information for students seems to be, approximately,the same both for northern and southern Italy. There was a slightprevalence of correct answers from southern teachers, probablybecause the phenomenon of pediculosis has a positive trend ofgrowth in the south. The number of correct answers was, for all,on average about 60.0%; a negative result in itself, consideringthe simplicity of the questions. Knowledge about the biology ofthe louse was virtually absent. The area of prevention showedlack of information and need for improvement. Most of theteachers believe that there are specific products that can preventinfestation by louse. Most of the teachers have information whichdoes not come from scientific sources. Students receive someshort and incomplete information from their parents.Deficiencies in teachers’ knowledge indicate that they areinadequately equipped to manage lice infestation. Educationalinterventions with teachers and families and, as a consequence,with students should be taught at school to allow a correct understandingof the pediculosis, increasing the teachers’ competenceand, consequently, as soon as the infestation should manifest, arapid alert of the Health Service so that proper treatment couldbe provided.IntroductionMillions of individuals, most frequently from 3 to 12years old, are infested with lice each year. Due to lackof correct information and procedures for appropriateaction, the management of episodes of pediculosis inschools is difficult [1-3].Pediculosis is increasing in every country of the worldand it is perceived as a public health problem. In Italy,25.0% of schools throughout the country experience anoutbreak of epidemic pediculosis during autumn, withan estimated prevalence of between 8,0 and 10,0% overthe entire primary school population [4]. Research indicatedthat the number of pharmaceutical preparationsused annually
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)141-151
Numero di pagine11
RivistaJournal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene
Volume50
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2009

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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