Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 119-124

Open-air defecation: A qualitative approach

Departments of Community Medicine, Chennai Medical College Hospital and Research Center (SRM Group), Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rock Britto
Department of Community Medicine, Chennai Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Irungalur, Trichy - 621 105, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ATMPH.ATMPH_516_17

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Introduction: India is facing a challenge in controlling open-air defecation (OAD). There are various sociocultural and behavioral factors that influenced the practice. Objective: To study the attitude, behavior, and practice associated with OAD among individuals in Samayapuram area, Trichy district, Tamil Nadu. Methodology: This was a qualitative study done during August 2016. The topic guide comprised questions about OAD and latrines. Focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews (IDIs) were conducted among various groups and individuals. Results: The study population comprised people of different age groups and gender residing in Samayapuram, Trichy District, Tamil Nadu. Five FGDs were conducted among field workers, adult males, adult females, and school children (both males and females). Ten IDIs were conducted among school children, adults, the elderly, a medical officer, an executive officer, a sanitary inspector, and a sanitary worker. The study showed that people prefer OAD over latrine for the following reasons: economical, habit, comfort, space constraints, opportunity to be combined with walking, smoking and chatting with friends, ventilation, and easy accessibility. They did not prefer community latrines for maintenance constraints such as water scarcity, cleanliness, and distance. Conclusion: The issue of OAD can be addressed only by strong and continuous motivation of individuals and groups. Any intervention to reduce OAD should aim at exploring the unique beliefs, culture, common factors, etc., for it to be effective. The intervention should be highly multidimensional with a special focus on behavior, engineering, and legislation.

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