The pursuit of regaining health and a healthy lifestyle often hinges on avoiding sickness itself. Diseases can be treated the same way even when the circumstances of the sickness are different, once this has been recognised. However, it is worthy to note that health-seeking behaviour begins as soon as there has been an occurrence of illness, not when severe symptoms of the disease have already been noticed.
The multidimensional expansion of seeking for health to any extension beyond the narrow limits of healthcare, and encompassing protective aspects, is principally reliant on its health, workforce, and successful service operation.
The panacea from the journey so far
What facilitates the use of health services and what inﬂuences people to behave differently in relation to their health has long been the focus of practitioners in the health sector.
Consequently, there has been a great deal of thought on the utilisation of health services in both developed and developing countries as well as health-seeking behaviour but, especially for me, two dominant approaches are of note: the development of pathways models of health-seeking behaviour, which tend to describe a series of steps an individual takes, and the determinants of that behaviour, highlighting the factors inﬂuencing that journey.
Over the years, while there are diverse sculpts that have been proposed to elucidate the different determinants of health-seeking behaviours among various aspects of people, Andersen’s earlier study involved one such grouping of factors into three main categories: the healthcare, peripheral environment, and population distinctiveness. The individual’s health behaviour and adoption of the sick role is another. But this representation explicitly focuses on one’s health behaviour and it ignores the effect of social networks on the decision-making process
Re-situating health-seeking behaviour in society
Of great interest is, as noted earlier, the incorporation of conventional or traditional means of appreciating how pharmaceutical drugs like amitriptyline, bupropion, or chlorpromazine work is essential. The prospect of taking pharmaceutical drugs differs in terms of people’s acceptance from what is expected from traditional treatment. Whereas with traditional cures, people tend to exhibit a lot of open-mindedness and permissiveness in order for the medication to start taking effect no matter how long it takes, they expect an immediate effect from pharmaceutical drugs. For instance, in long term illnesses such as smallpox or tuberculosis, where people expect instant recovery, this can cause them to discard management before it becomes effective.
There’s a need to be extra receptive to the realities of health-seeking behaviour, and, increasingly, as some reasons why seeking health solutions to health problems in developing countries is accepting to an extent unqualiﬁed healthcare providers and traditional medications as a significant source and perchance even as the main providers of care as they play a role to either improve or serves as motivation to others around the communities and state. Also, on the developments in biotechnological health check facilities, the same are said to support health-seeking behaviour.
There is a need for therapeutic analysis and affirmation for individuals, groups, and communities that health-seeking behaviour is not just a one-off inaccessible phenomenon to be engaged. It is part and parcel of a community’s distinctiveness in relation to peoples’ lives and family well-being, which is the result of an evolving merge of societal, private, civilising, and pragmatic factors. Hence, it has a direct effect on the health of communities as are vital and to be taken into cognisant by all and sundry.
Just as the Health Systems Development Programme noted, participation in association or community centred schemes has been demonstrated to have an indirect effect on the health-seeking behaviour of individuals or persons needing help before or after an illness. Overall, looking at development in terms of organisation and system, and the technicalities of participation by both children and adults, there is a need to shift the focus from individuals to social groups, and to the social embeddedness of such individuals’ actions to their own health.
There is a clear need for translating social conventions, cultural norms, and expectations into a relative representation of how the structural preconditions of various healthcare systems around the world reinforce or contribute to the related set of troubles and challenges faced by individuals needing help as regards to their health.
Onah Caleb is a research assistant at Benue State University (Nigeria). He runs the blog KaylebsThought.