Indifferent to disease: a qualitative investigation of the reasons why some Papua New Guineans who own mosquito nets choose not to use them

Soc Sci Med. 2012 Dec;75(12):2283-90. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.08.030. Epub 2012 Sep 7.


This paper presents findings from a qualitative study designed to explore the reasons why some Papua New Guineans who own mosquito nets choose not to use them, whether on a regular or episodic basis. In-depth interviews (IDIs) were conducted with a sub-sample (n = 44) of participants in a country wide household survey who reported owning or having access to a mosquito net, but not having slept under a mosquito net the night prior to survey. All IDIs were completed between December 2010 and June 2011. Analysis was informed by a general inductive methodology. Multiple impediments to regular mosquito net use were identified by study participants, although all were broadly grouped into the inter-related categories of net-, environmental- or human-factors. Indifference emerged as the most influential impediment towards regular net use presenting as a general attitudinal context in which a majority of participant responses were grounded. A lack of knowledge regarding malaria transmission pathways or the utility of mosquito nets did not appear to underlie this indifference. Rather, the indifference appeared to be rooted in a lack of fear of malaria infection cultivated through lived experience. A wide range of interventions could potentially promote greater mosquito net use amongst this population. However, the basis of any intervention strategy, given the pervasive indifferent attitude towards regular mosquito net use, should be to render individual mosquito net use as easy and as convenient as possible and to promote complementary malaria control strategies where appropriate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malaria / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Mosquito Nets / statistics & numerical data*
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Qualitative Research