Health-seeking behaviour and student perception of health care services in a university community in Nigeria
Health (Irvine, Calif.)
Objectives: Examining consumers' healthcare behavior can help in the design of ways to ensure better access to health and the quality of care. Health-seeking behavior is viewed as the varied response of individuals to states of illhealth, depending on their knowledge and perceptions of health, socioeconomic constraints, adequacy of available health services and attitude of healthcare providers. This study examines health-seeking behavior of university students, their use of healthcare services
... ealthcare services in the community and barriers to seeking help at the university health centre. Method: Structured questionnaires were validated and administered on a random sample of university students spread over different academic disciplines in a large institution. The sample consisted of 1608 undergraduate students attending the public university in southwestern Nigeria. The demographic profile reflects the national university student population. Relevant information was collected on preferred health services consulted by the undergraduates such as barriers to seeking adequate medical attention and their experiences with salient aspects of service delivery. Responses were weighted and the average was taken to be representative. Results: Students consulted their peers (37.5%) in health related academic disciplines rather than seek treatment at the university health centre. Some students (24.7%) preferred community pharmacies while others took personal responsibilities for their health or abstained from medical care for religious rea-sons (16.8%). Significant barriers to seeking medical attention at the health centre were cost of care, protracted waiting time, inadequate health information, unfriendly attitude of healthcare workers and drug shortage. Conclusions: Students sought help from community pharmacies (ease of access) and from peers in health related academic programmes rather than from physicians at the health centre. Health-seeking behavior of the students was influenced, essentially, by the nature of ailment, waiting time in the health facility and attitude of healthcare professionals. Implications for policy, practice or delivery: The findings of this research identified the relative use of available health services within the university. Initiatives to improve student access to the university health centre should address significant barriers of patient delays, the need for attitudinal change and continuing professional development of relevant workers in the health facility. Promotional activities may be necessary to inform and educate students on rational use of medicines and access to treatment at the health centre.