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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

  • Autori: Sidoti, E; Bonura, F; Paolini, G; Tringali, G
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2009
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Parole Chiave: Pediculosis head lice infestation Health Education Primary School
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High rates of pediculosis are found in every part of the world. The age-range most affected is between 3 and 12 years. No-nit policies are ineffective in preventing infestations. On the other hand, misdiagnosis and overuse of pediculicides, increase resistance to treatment. Lack of information leads people to consider this kind of infestation to be associated to low social classes and immigrants. This research has been implemented to find out about the information level on pediculosis on a sample of students (722) and teachers (408) of some primary schools in northern and southern Italy, and to highlight the role of personal aspects such as age, gender, cultural level, geographical position which may influence this topic and, eventually, allow the use of the correct knowledge in developing appropriate procedures within the school district. Data was obtained through a questionnaire containing 21 multiple choice questions for the teachers and 14 for the students. Standard descriptive statistics were computed. χ2 tests were applied to highlight statistical association among observed variables; test for the difference of two proportions were applied to confirm significant differences among the observed proportions. The level of information for students seems to be, approximately, the same both for northern and southern Italy. There was a slight prevalence of correct answers from southern teachers, probably because the phenomenon of pediculosis has a positive trend of growth in the south. The number of correct answers was, for all, on average about 60.0%; a negative result in itself, considering the simplicity of the questions. Knowledge about the biology of the louse was virtually absent. The area of prevention showed lack of information and need for improvement. Most of the teachers believe that there are specific products that can prevent infestation by louse. Most of the teachers have information which does not come from scientific sources. Students receive some short and incomplete information from their parents. Deficiencies in teachers’ knowledge indicate that they are inadequately equipped to manage lice infestation. Educational interventions with teachers and families and, as a consequence, with students should be taught at school to allow a correct understanding of the pediculosis, increasing the teachers’ competence and, consequently, as soon as the infestation should manifest, a rapid alert of the Health Service so that proper treatment could be provided. Introduction Millions of individuals, most frequently from 3 to 12 years old, are infested with lice each year. Due to lack of correct information and procedures for appropriate action, the management of episodes of pediculosis in schools is difficult [1-3]. Pediculosis is increasing in every country of the world and it is perceived as a public health problem. In Italy, 25.0% of schools throughout the country experience an outbreak of epidemic pediculosis during autumn, with an estimated prevalence of between 8,0 and 10,0% over the entire primary school population [4]. Research indicated that the number of pharmaceutical preparations used annually