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 ill-health, 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 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 southwesternNigeria. 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 reasons (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.
Cite this paper
Afolabi, M. , Daropale, V. , Irinoye, A. and Adegoke, A. (2013) Health-seeking behaviour and student perception of health care services in a university community in Nigeria. Health, 5, 817-824. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.55108.
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