Comparison of Morbidity Interviews with a Health Examination Survey in Rural Africa

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  • University of California at Los Angeles, School of Public Health, Department of Community Health, University of Ghana Medical School, Los Angeles, California 90024, Ghana

This paper describes a study of the Danfa Comprehensive Rural Health and Family Planning Project, Ghana. The report compares information obtained from morbidity interviews with information obtained during subsequent health examinations. One to 4 days prior to examination by a team of physicians, 3,653 rural Ghanaians were interviewed by a team of auxiliary workers. Information obtained from the interview survey was noticeably different from examination diagnoses. Significant health problems such as malaria, intestinal parasites and diarrhea, as well as minor and chronic conditions were seriously under-reported. Interview findings were more accurate for children, women in the reproductive age group, and in cases in which the disease caused considerable discomfort or disability. Although individual examination was eight times as costly as an interview, small scale rural health examination surveys of a representative sample of the population are recommended to provide accurate morbidity information for health planners.