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Socio-demographic determinants of Health care-seeking behaviour, selfreported illness and Self-evaluated Health status in Jamaica

The objectives of this study were to examine self-rated health status and health care-seeking behaviour of Jamaicans, and to ascertain the socio-economic determinants of health careseeking behaviour as well as good health status. To that end, a cross-sectional descriptive study of 1,006 respondents who answered the question on health-seeking behaviour was used, and this was extracted from a larger nationally representative probability sampling survey of 6,783 Jamaicans. Descriptive statistics were used to provide background information on the demographic characteristics of the sample, chi-square was used to examine correlation between two non-metric variables, and logistic regressions were employed to establish the predictors of health care-seeking behaviour and good self-rated health status. Of the sample, 40.5% was men and 59.5% women, with a mean age of 41.8 years (SD=27.6 years). Forty-four percent of the sample reported at least good health, 97% claimed that they have had some form of dysfunction; 6% reported being injured due to accidents, and only 11% indicated that their illness was not diagnosed by a health practitioner. Of those who indicated being diagnosed with a recurring ailment, 5.6% had arthritis, 20.5% hypertension, 12.4% diabetes mellitus, 9.5% asthma and 14.9% cold. Only 65.4% of the sample sought health care. In the multivariate analyses, health-care seeking behaviour of Jamaicans can be explained by age of respondents (OR=1.031, 95%CI=1.014, 1.049); area of residence (other towns OR=0.5, 95%CI=0.278, 0.902); log consumption (OR=3.605 95%CI=1.814, 7.167); marital status (married OR=0.468 95%CI=0.260, 0.843; divorced, separated or widowed, OR=0.383, 95% CI 0.163, 0.903) and social class (Upper class OR=0.319, 95%CI=0.106, 0.958). The health status of those who seek health care can be predicted duration of the individuals to carry out their normal activities (OR=0.594, 95%CI=0.413, 0.855); age of respondents (OR=0.967, 95%CI=0.949, 0.986) and area of residence (urban area OR=2.415, 1.195, 4.881; other towns OR=2.514, 1.162, 5.442). Self-rated health status was found to be a significant statistical predictor of self-reported dysfunction - good self-rated health status with reference to poor self-rated health status (OR=0.271, 95%CI=0.081, 0.915). This relationship disappears when socio-demographic characteristics were included. The findings of this study suggests that health service professionals need to increase awareness about the benefits of purchasing prescribed medication, and that this must be more so for rural and urban residents.

Author(s): Paul Andrew Bourne

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