Predicting Treatment-Seeking Behavior in Guatemala: A Comparison of the Health Services Research and Decision-Theoretic Approaches

Susan C. Weller, Trenton R. Ruebush, Robert E. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


This study attempts to identify and describe factors associated with the choice of a health care source in rural Guatemala. Because of limited choice options, rural Guatemala makes an excellent location for studying the factors that affect utilization patterns. Illness case histories were collected from a random sample of 270 households in six villages. Then, two different methodological approaches were used to predict treatment actions. First, a sociobehavioral model, which encompasses enabling, predisposing, and need factors, was used to predict treatment choices. Using discriminant analysis we identified factors associated with the use of home remedies, a pharmacy, the health post, a physician, or folk healer. In a second, parallel study, descriptive interviews were used to identify important factors in choosing a treatment strategy. From these interviews, and from responses to hypothetical illness cases, we developed a decision model of treatment actions. Both models were tested against the set of illness cases. Results indicate that both approaches identify similar variables (especially, severity), although selection of variables through the multivariate analysis was much more successful in predicting treatment actions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-245
Number of pages22
JournalMedical Anthropology Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997



  • Decision model
  • Guatemala
  • Health services utilization
  • Latin america
  • Treatment choices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

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