Knowledge and its effects on attitudes and practices of students in relation to menstruation: a case of selected secondary schools in Kakamega County, Kenya
Many studies linked to the challenges vis-a-vis menstruation among school going girls in Kenya tend to focus on lack of sanitary towels or provision of items that can be used to manage menstrual flow. This study sought to find out whether there are other challenges that secondary school students face in addition to the lack of sanitary towels. This study endeavored to determine what type of knowledge students, both'male and female, had on menstruation and how this knowledge led to forming attitudes, whether positive and negative; and health behavior practices among girls and practices by both girls and boys from the attitudes they have formed, in relation to menstruation. This study also considers major cultural challenges faced by adolescents in regards to menstruation. Descriptive research design and naturalistic research approach were used in this study. Three schools, one girls' boarding school; one boys' boarding school; and one mixed day school were purposively sampled for the study. In the three sampled schools, students were sampled for the study. For the student's population sample, eight girls were selected from the girls' secondary school; eight boys from the boys' boarding school; and 16, eight girls and eight boys from the mixed day school. Eleven teachers and two health workers were selected for the study. The total population sample was 45 respondents. Interview schedule, tape recorder and observation guides were used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Finding established that knowledge in relation to menstruation was vital for the secondary school students but was not availed to them in totality. Students generally expressed positive attitudes towards menstruation issues yet contradicted this by expressing that other students had negative attitudes towards menstruation, a statement supported by teachers and school health workers. Attitudes towards menstruation also were linked to menstruation practices or behavior surrounding menstruation. Findings also revealed that some health behavior practices observed by girls that relate to menstruation are harmful to their health. The following recommendations were suggested: the government should invest more finances to manage menstruation challenges; teachers, being the predominant educators on menstruation, need better training on how to manage such topics exhaustively; parents and the community need to be involved in their adolescents' lives; religious organizations should be clear on the doctrines related to menstruation; and finally, the media should playa role in promoting family values.
University of Nairobi, Kenya