Health Seeking Behaviour and Healthcare Utilization in a Rural Cohort of North India

Rajaram Yadav, Kamran Zaman, Ayush Mishra, Mahendra M. Reddy, Prem Shankar, Priyanka Yadav, Kaushik Kumar, Rajni Kant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The healthcare infrastructure of a country determines the health-seeking behaviour of the population. In developing countries such as India, there is a great disparity in the distribution of healthcare institutions across urban and rural areas with disadvantages for people living in rural areas. Objectives: Our objectives were to study the health-seeking behavior and factors associated with the use of formal healthcare among the Gorakhpur Health and Demographic Surveillance System (GHDSS) cohort of North India. Methods: The study was conducted in 28 villages from two rural blocks in the Gorakhpur district of eastern Uttar Pradesh, North India. Structured questionnaires were used to collect the data with regard to demographics, health-seeking behaviour and healthcare utilization. An adjusted odds ratio with 95% confidence interval was used to report the factors associated with the utilization of healthcare. Results: Out of 120,306 individuals surveyed, 19,240 (16%) individuals reported having any health problem in the last 15 days. Of them, 90% sought healthcare for their health needs. The formal healthcare utilization was 79%. The use of public health facilities was very low (37%) with most of the people seeking treatment from private healthcare (63%). Females, people with a higher level of education (graduate and above), and those belonging to rich and middle tercile were more likely to use formal healthcare services. Among different ailments, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems, and musculoskeletal problems were associated with decreased use of formal healthcare. Conclusion: About four in five individuals surveyed who had health problems sought treatments from formal healthcare with three in five preferring private institutions to public healthcare facilities due to a perceived higher level of treatment quality and nearby availability. There is an urgent need to re-establish community trust among public healthcare facilities with a focus on delivering on-site health care and enhancing the quality of services offered by public healthcare institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number757
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • formal healthcare
  • health and demographic surveillance system
  • health services research
  • public healthcare
  • rural health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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