Winning Abstract of Breaking News ISCOMS 2018

Title: Encouraging caregivers of malnourished children to provide sensory stimulation through toy-making workshops in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Author: Benedetta Broggi

Field of research: Paediatrics


Psychosocial stimulation is an essential step in the treatment of a malnourished child. Malnutrition leads to a higher risk of cognitive and motor impairments throughout child- and adulthood. This study will assess the caregiver’s understanding of the importance of toy play and subsequent implementation of the knowledge gained during the workshop.

Material & methods

In this interventional study toy making workshops and education on the importance of toy play were given to caregivers of malnourished children admitted at Stanger Regional Hospital, South Africa. Toys were made according to the WHO Guideline for Inpatient Treatment of Malnourished Children. Caregivers were surveyed before and after attending the workshop. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the results of the questionnaires. To compare the answers before and after attending the workshops, McNemar’s test was used for categorical variables and paired t-test for continuous variables. SPSS version 24 for Windows (IBM, Armonk USA) was used.


This study included 19 caregivers of malnourished children who attended 1.68±1 workshops. As factors that prevented the caregivers from using toys, 2 (10.5%) cited financial barriers as limiting factor, 1 (5.3%) lack of knowledge on the importance of toys, 6 (31.6%) lack of knowledge on how to make toys, 3 (15.8%) lack of time, and 6 (31.6%) gave a different reason. Following the workshop 11 (91.7%) knew how to make toys from recycled materials and 12 (100%) were motivated to pass on this knowledge to other caregivers in their community. An exact McNemar’s test determined a statistically significant difference in the proportion of the knowledge of how to make toys before and after attending the workshop, p=0.003. There was a significant average difference between the time spent playing using toys before and after attending the workshop (t(10)=-3.55, p=0.005).


Caregivers of malnourished children understood the importance of toy play and acknowledged how to make toys. Compared to the initial situation, caregivers spent more time using toys when playing with their children after attending the workshops. This study showed that caregivers can be educated on how to make toys and can be encouraged to pass on the gained knowledge to other caregivers in their community.