Maternal Knowledge of Stunting in Rural Indonesia


  • Cougar Hall Brigham Young University
  • Cudjoe Bennett IMA World Health
  • Benjamin Crookston Brigham Young University
  • Kirk Dearden IMA World Health
  • Muhamad Hasan IMA World Health
  • Mary Linehan IMA World Health
  • Ahmad Syafiq Universitas Indonesia
  • Scott West IMA World Health
  • Joshua West Brigham Young University



Stunting, knowledge, childhood nutrition, Indonesia, Health Belief Model.


Child undernutrition and stunting remain serious public health problems in Indonesia. According to the Health Belief Model, increasing mothers’ knowledge of stunting is fundamental to establishing accurate threat perceptions predictive of behavior change. The purpose of this study was to increase understanding of factors related to maternal knowledge of stunting in Indonesia by addressing three questions: 1) How familiar with stunting are Indonesian mothers? 2) What antecedent factors do Indonesian mothers associate with stunting? and 3) What health effects do Indonesian mothers associate with stunting? A total of 3,150 mothers participated in structured face-to-face interviews. Study measures targeted four main variables. Mothers were asked: 1) Have you heard of stunting?; 2) Have you heard of shortness?; 3) What causes stunting/shortness?; and 4) What are the effects of stunting? Only 66 (2.1%) mothers reported having heard of, read about, or knew something about stunting. Approximately two-thirds of participants attributed stunting to hereditary factors. Interrupted growth (33.7%), idiocy (13.8%), and easy to get sick (11.8%) were identified as health effects of stunting. Results highlight the need for health promotion and education efforts focused on increasing basic knowledge of stunting, its causes, and its health effects among Indonesian mothers.


[1] Black RE, Allen LH, Bhutta ZA, Caulfield LE, de Onis M, Ezzati M, et al. Maternal and child undernutrition: global and regional exposures and health consequences. Lancet 2008; 371: 243-260.
[2] Crookston BT, Dearden KA, Alder S, Porucznik C, Stanford J, Merrill R, et al. Impact of early and concurrent stunting on cognition. Matern Child Nutr 2011; 7: 397-409.
[3] Victora CG, Adair L, Fall C, Hallal PC, Martorell R, Richter L, et al. Maternal and child undernutrition: consequences for adult health and human capital. Lancet 2008; 371: 340-357.
[4] Black RE, Victora CG, Walker SP, Bhutta ZA, Christian P, de Onis M, et al. Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet 2013. 382: 427-451.
[5] Alderman H, Hoddinott J, Kinsey B. Long term consequences of early childhood malnutrition. Oxf Econ Pap 2006; 58: 450-474.
[6] World Health Organization. Joint child malnutrition estimates - Levels and trends in child malnutrition: Key findings of the 2016 edition. Available from: estimates2016/en/
[7] Rachmi CN, Agho KE, Li M, Baur LA. Stunting, underweight and overweight in children aged 2.0–4.9 years in Indonesia: Prevalence trends and associated risk factors. PLoS ONE 2016; 11(5): e0154756.
[8] Kementerian Kesehatan RI. Rencana Strategis Kementerian Kesehatan Tahun 2010-2014. Jakarta. Available from:
[9] Semba RD, de Pee S, Sun K, Sari M, Akhter N. Bloem MW. Effect of parental formal education on risk of child stunting in Indonesia and Bangladesh: A cross-sectional study. Lancet 2008; 371: 322-328.
[10] Torlesse H, Cronin AA, Sebayang SK, Nandy R. Determinants of stunting in Indonesian children: Evidence from a cross-sectional survey indicate a prominent role for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector in stunting reduction. BMC Public Health 2016; 16: 669.
[11] Schott W, Crookston BT, Lundeen EA, Stein AD, Behrman JR. The young lives determinants and consequences of child growth project team. Child growth from ages 1 to 5 and 5 to 8 years in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam: Key distal household and community factors. Soc Sci Med 2013; 97: 278e287.
[12] Rosenstock IM. The health belief model: Explaining health behavior through expectancies. In Glanz K, Lewis FM, Rimer BK (Eds.), The Jossey-Bass health series. Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice (pp. 39-62). Jossey-Bass: San Francisco 1990.
[13] Hoshaw-Woodard S. Description and comparison of the methods of cluster sampling and lot quality assurance sampling to assess immunization coverage. World Health Organization. 2001. Available from:
[14] Gibson RS. Principles of Nutritional Assessment. 2nd ed. Oxford university press: New York 2005.
[15] Bandura A., Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 1986.
[16] Ajzen I. The theory of planned behavior. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 1991; 50(2): 179-211.






General Articles