Introduction: This study aimed to determine the emotional impact on parents of young children who require hospitalisation for acute diarrhoea (AD), and the disruption of daily activities experienced and costs incurred by them.
Methods: A prospective study was conducted on children below two years of age with AD admitted to two urban hospitals in Malaysia. Parents were interviewed on the emotional impact and disruption of daily activities experienced by them, as well as the extra costs incurred as a result of the hospitalisation of their child.
Results: The parents of 85 children (median age 13 months; boys n = 58, 68%; girls n = 27, 32%) were recruited for the study. The proportions of parents who reported that they were very worried about the symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting and fever in their child were 82%, 83% and 78%, respectively. Parents also reported being upset, helpless, mentally and physically exhausted, and having experienced loss of sleep and disruption of daily routine during the hospitalisation of their child (median four days). The median extra cost (including out-of-pocket cost and loss of income) incurred by parents as a result of the hospitalisation was USD 252.86, which constituted 16% of the combined monthly family income.
Conclusion: Although short, AD-related hospitalisation in young children has considerable emotional impact and creates significant distress, in addition to causing significant financial burden for parents.