Background: The World Health Organization's effective, inexpensive oral rehydration solution (WHO-ORS) is used worldwide, but rarely by US practitioners because, in part, of concerns about parent satisfaction.
Objective: To compare caretaker satisfaction with the WHO-ORS, a packet-based solution requiring preparation, with satisfaction with a commercially prepared oral rehydration solution (C-ORS), (Pedialyte; Ross Nutritionals, Columbus, Ohio).
Design and methods: Randomized controlled trial in an urban pediatric clinic and a suburban family medicine clinic. Children aged 3 to 47 months treated as outpatients for diarrhea were randomized to receive either WHO-ORS or C-ORS. After 48 hours of use, caretakers completed a telephone interview measuring satisfaction with aspects of the solution.
Results: Of 97 families enrolled, 91 (94%) were available for follow-up interviews. The WHO-ORS and C-ORS groups were comparable at baseline in all respects, except that slightly more caretakers in the latter group had used the C-ORS for the current illness before study enrollment (P= .06). Caretakers in the WHO-ORS group had higher overall satisfaction, satisfaction with cost, willingness to purchase in the future, and to recommend use (P<.001 for all). Differences remained significant after controlling for prior use of the C-ORS. There was no difference in satisfaction with ease of administration (P=.90), appearance (P=.20), and effectiveness (P=.80). No adverse effects attributable to either study solution occurred.
Conclusions: Caretakers who prepared and used the WHO-ORS were more satisfied with their solution than a comparable group who administered C-ORS. Fear of parental dissatisfaction need not be a barrier to use of the WHO-ORS in the United States.