oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding iodine among patients with hyperthyroidism in the Free State, South Africa : original research
Objectives: To gather baseline information on the knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding iodine and iodised salt among patients with hyperthyroidism in the Free State.
Subjects and Setting: The study was part of a large cohort study that included the first 96 patients aged 13 years or older diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and referred to Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa during 2005.
Methods: The patients were interviewed in their language using a structured validated questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used for data analysis.
Results: The majority of the patients (86.9%) did not know what iodine was. Similarly, a higher percentage of patients (76.7%) were unaware of the most important or main source of iodine in the food of South Africans. Regarding knowledge of the most important harmful effect on the health of children if they did not get enough iodine, almost all of the patients (89.1%) did not know what it was. Ninety-five per cent of salt was obtained from the local shops, and only 36.1% of the patients read the labelling on the package during purchase. A very small proportion of patients (1.6%) stored salt in closed containers and away from sunlight, while about half of them (49.2%) stored salt in open containers without lids, 36.1% stored it in rigid plastic containers with holes at the top, and 13.1% stored it in the open plastic bags in which the salt was bought.
Conclusions: Patients with hyperthyroidism lacked knowledge of iodine, as well as of the storage of iodised salt, and this could have contributed to the persisting endemic goitre reported in previous studies. An aggressive awareness programme, targeting policy makers and the public, is recommended to ensure sustainable elimination of iodine deficiency disorders in South Africa.
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