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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Health-care seeking behaviour among persons with diabetes in Uganda: an interview study

Katarina Hjelm1* and Fortunate Atwine2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health and Caring Sciences, Linnaeus University, Växjö, S-351 95 Växjö, Sweden

2 Department of Nursing, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Mbarara, Uganda

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2011, 11:11  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-11

Published: 26 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Healthcare-seeking behaviour in patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) has been investigated to a limited extent, and not in developing countries. Switches between different health sectors may interrupt glycaemic control, affecting health. The aim of the study was to explore healthcare-seeking behaviour, including use of complementary alternative medicine (CAM) and traditional healers, in Ugandans diagnosed with DM. Further, to study whether gender influenced healthcare-seeking behaviour.

Methods

This is a descriptive study with a snowball sample from a community in Uganda. Semi-structured interviews were held with 16 women and 8 men, aged 25-70. Data were analysed by qualitative content analysis.

Results

Healthcare was mainly sought among doctors and nurses in the professional sector because of severe symptoms related to DM and/or glycaemic control. Females more often focused on follow-up of DM and chronic pain in joints, while males described fewer problems. Among those who felt that healthcare had failed, most had turned to traditional healers in the folk sector for prescription of herbs or food supplements, more so in women than men. Males more often turned to private for-profit clinics while females more often used free governmental institutions.

Conclusions

Healthcare was mainly sought from nurses and physicians in the professional sector and females used more free-of-charge governmental institutions. Perceived failure in health care to manage DM or related complications led many, particularly women, to seek alternative treatment from CAM practitioners in the folk sector. Living conditions, including healthcare organisation and gender, seemed to influence healthcare seeking, but further studies are needed.

Keywords:
Healthcare-seeking behaviour; Diabetes Mellitus; Complementary Alternative Medicine; Uganda