Determinants of health care seeking behavior among rural population of a coastal area in South India
Keywords:Health seeking behaviour, Morbidity, Rural
Background: Understanding of health seeking behaviour (HSB) is essential to provide need based health care services to the population. Many factors like sex, age, type of illness, access to services and perceived quality of the services, influences the health seeking behavior. This study assessed the HSB among rural population of a coastal area in Tamil Nadu.
Methods: A community based descriptive study was done in a rural coastal area of Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu state of India. Using simple random sampling method, 559 participants were selected. A pre-tested structured questionnaire was used to collect the data. Information about socio-demographic characteristics, presence of acute or chronic illness, health care seeking behavior and reasons for non-utilization of particular health facilities etc. was obtained. Chi square test was applied to find the association of health care seeking behavior with various participant characteristics.
Results: Among 559 study participants, majority (56.4%) visited public health care facilities for various illnesses. Almost one-third of the study participants visited the private health facilities and another 11.6 percent visited other health facilities including pharmacies. Among various causes, febrile illnesses (39.5%) and pain (20.8%) were the most common reasons for visiting a health care facility. Individual’s income was significantly associated with the HSB (p value <0.05). Availability of services, free of cost was reported as most common reason for preferring to the public health facility. On other hand, private practitioners were preferred due to their better availability and quality of care.Conclusions: Public health care facilities were preferred by due to low cost of services and HSB varies with the type of illness and income of the individuals.
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