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Qualitative assessment of caustic soda injury in Liberia
  1. Jethro Zawolo1,
  2. Keri A Cohn2,
  3. Maima Kawah-Baysah1,
  4. Salome Weah-Chenoway3,
  5. Lawuobah Gbozee4,
  6. Alexandra M Vinograd2
  1. 1Pediatrics, Redemption Hospital, Monrovia, Liberia
  2. 2Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3Liberia Caustic Soda Nurse Investigator, Monrovia, Liberia
  4. 4Surgery, John F Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Monrovia, Liberia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alexandra M Vinograd, Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; vinograda{at}


Objectives This study explored lye (caustic soda, sodium hydroxide) use in Liberia, knowledge about its risks and injury prevention programmes.

Design A qualitative semistructured interview study.

Setting Focus groups occurred in six Liberian counties between April and August 2016.

Patients Two previously identified stakeholder groups included parents of children under 5 years and adults identifying as soap makers.

Interventions Interview guides were written. Participants were recruited by convenience and snowball sampling. Transcribed audio-recorded discussions were analysed using the constant comparative approach.

Main outcome measures Participants were enrolled until thematic saturation was reached.

Results Ninety-six adults participated. Participants described how lye entered the home, its use, storage, lye-related injuries and treatments, and injury prevention programmes.

Conclusions Lye is commonly used and stored in Liberian homes despite recognition of its danger. A successful injury prevention programme must interrupt this cycle and find programming and legislative change to which the community is receptive.

  • global health
  • paediatrics
  • qualitative research
  • toxicology

Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

Statistics from

Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

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  • Contributors JZ, KAC, MK-B, SW-C, LG and AMV conceptualised and designed this study. JZ, MK-B and SW-C conducted the focus groups. Data were analysed and interpreted by JZ, AMV, MK-B, SW-C and KAC. The final manuscript was written by JZ, AMV and KAC. Final edits were made by and approval granted by all of the authors. All of the authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding Funding for this study was obtained by AMV and KAC from the Melissa Ketunuti Memorial Global Health Fund at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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