Document Type : Original Article
Medical Faculty, Near East University, Nicosia,TRNC, Turkey
Understanding health-seeking behaviors and determining factors help governments to adequately allocate and manage existing health resources. The aim of the study was to examine the health-seeking behaviors of people in using public and private health facilities and to assess the factors that influence healthcare utilization in Northern Cyprus.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2 polyclinics among 507 people using a structured intervieweradministered questionnaire. Health-seeking behaviors were measured using four indicators including routine medical check-ups, preferences of healthcare facilities, admission while having health problems, and refusal of health services while ill. Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression analyses were done to explore factors influencing the use of health services.
About 77.3% of the participants reported to have visited health centers while they had any health problems. More than half (51.7%) of them had a routine medical check-up during the previous year, while 12.2% of them had refused to seek healthcare when they felt ill during the last five years. Of all, 39.1% of them reported preferring private health services. Current smokers (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.92, 95% CI: 1.17-3.14), having chronic diseases (AOR = 2.05, 95% CI: 1.95-2.16), having poor perceptions on health (AOR = 2.33; 95% CI: 1.563.48), and spending less on health during the last three months (AOR = 2.08, 95% CI: 1.43- 3.01) had about twice the odds of having routine checkups. Higher education (AOR = 1.87, 95% CI: 1.38-2.55) was shown to be a positive predictor for the health-seeking behaviors, whereas having self-care problems (AOR = 0.18, 95% CI: 0.08-0.40) and having a moderate-income (AOR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.57-0.81) were inversely associated with seeking healthcare.
The utilization of public and private health sectors revealed evident disparities in the socio-economic characteristics of participants. The health-seeking behaviors were determined by need factors including chronic disease status and having poor health perception and also by enabling factors such as education, income, insurance status and ability to pay by oneself. These findings highlight the need for further nationwide studies and provide evidence for specific strategies to reduce the socioeconomic inequalities in the use of healthcare services.