A population-based case control study was conducted to ascertain whether the process of primary care can be a determinant of infant mortality due to Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI). Cases were 118 infants who died from ARI, individually matched with 118 infants who suffered an ARI episode and recovered. Information was gathered through interviewing mothers. Study variables were assembled into five subsets: children's characteristics; mothers' characteristics; access to medical services; process of primary care, and; sociodemographic variables. An index per subset was built to analyze the independent influence of each on ARI death risk. The index was constructed upon the weighted sum of the adjusted odds ratios (OR) within each subset. Then, the values of each index were collapsed into high/low values with the 50 percentile as a cut-off value. Next, by means of a conditional logistic regression procedure, an explanatory model of ARI mortality was obtained. The final multivariate model included the indexes that showed an independent effect: I) Process of care (OR 9.68, CI 95% 3.59-26.1): inadequate referral, attention provided by more than one physician and being attended by a private physician; II) children's characteristics (OR 7.22, CI 95% 2.35-22.2): perinatal history, lack of breast-feeding and incomplete immunization scheme; III) access to medical services (OR 5.27, CI 95% 2.02-13.7): geographic and economic barriers, lack of confidence in public health services, and; IV) mothers' characteristics (OR 4.03, CI 95% 1.18-13.8), mainly represented by untimely care seeking. We conclude that the management of the disease is a key determinant in which factors relating to the mother and the health services are strongly related. Our study reveals untimely care seeking, difficult access and inadequate disease treatment as important factors which deserve careful attention in the future. We also confirm the importance of biological determinants previously described. A main strategy to reduce infant mortality due to ARI should be to encourage training of primary care physicians, including private practitioners, focused on providing effective case management and emphasizing the education to mothers.
PIP: Findings are reported from a case-control study conducted to determine whether the process of primary care can be a determinant of infant mortality due to acute respiratory infection (ARI). 118 infants who died from ARI were individually matched with 118 infants who experienced an ARI episode and recovered. Information was collected through interviews with the children's mothers. Multivariate analysis identified the independent effects of the process of care, children's characteristics, access to medical services, and mothers' characteristics upon ARI-related infant mortality. Managing disease is a key determinant to survival in which factors relating to the mother and health services are strongly related. Untimely care seeking, difficult access, and inadequate disease treatment deserve close attention in the future. A strategy to reduce the level of infant mortality due to ARI would be to encourage the training of primary care physicians, including private practitioners, focusing upon providing effective case management and emphasizing the education of mothers.