A Study of Determinants of Use of Healthcare Services in India
Context: Healthcare in India is a complex mix of providers, facilities and payment systems with low budgetary support from the government. After decades of neglect there is realisation that health is a priority and spending should be increased. Also there is a shortage of evidence and subsequently a need to suggest direction based on this evidence. Aims: To determine the burden of illness in the study population; find out the types of healthcare facilities used during illness; study the medico-social and economic factors influencing utilization of healthcare services. Settings and Design: 10 locations, 5 villages and 5 urban areas in the field practice areas of department of Community Medicine, AMU Aligarh. Methods and Material: Cross sectional field based study on 2518 individuals using systematic random sampling. Participants interviewed and data collected on a piloted proforma. Data Collected in two parts, initial information about burden of illness and later information of treatment seeking behaviour. Statistical analysis used: Chi Square tests, Proportions. Results: Disease severity and economic reasons play a part in treatment seeking behaviour. Some kind of treatment is sought in majority of illnesses. Treatment seeking increases with the perceived severity of illness. Choice of treatment facilities depends on various factors including availability, cost and type of illness. Conclusions: There is a hidden need for healthcare in rural areas which is expected to increase with rising awareness about health. Poverty is the major reason for not seeking any treatment in urban areas reflecting an urgent need of health provision for poor.