Background: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a leading cause of death among adults in sub-Saharan Africa, and chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a growing public health threat. Understanding knowledge, attitudes, and practices associated with NCDs is vital to informing optimal policy and public health responses in the region, but few community-based assessments have been performed for CKD. To address this gap, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of adults in northern Tanzania using a validated instrument.
Methods: Between January and June 2014, we administered a structured survey to a random sample of adults from urban and rural communities. The validated instrument consisted of 25 items designed to measure knowledge, attitudes, and practices associated with kidney disease. Participants were also screened for CKD, diabetes, hypertension, and human immunodeficiency virus.
Results: We enrolled 606 participants from 431 urban and rural households. Knowledge of the etiologies, symptoms, and treatments for kidney disease was low (mean score 3.28 out of 10; 95% CI 2.94, 3.63). There were no significant differences by CKD status. Living in an urban setting and level of education had the strongest independent associations with knowledge score. Attitudes were characterized by frequent concern about the health (27.3%; 20.2, 36.0%), economic (73.1%; 68.2, 77.5%), and social impact (25.4%; 18.6, 33.6%) of kidney disease. Practices included the use of traditional healers (15.2%; 9.1, 24.5%) and traditional medicines (33.8%; 25.0, 43.9%) for treatment of kidney disease as well as a willingness to engage with mobile-phone technology in CKD care (94.3%; 90.1, 96.8%).
Conclusions: Community-based adults in northern Tanzania have limited knowledge of kidney disease. However, there is a modest knowledge base upon which to build public health programs to expand awareness and understanding of CKD, but these programs must also consider the variety of means by which adults in this population meet their healthcare needs. Finally, our assessment of local attitudes suggested that such public health efforts would be well-received.