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Anthropological and socio-medical health care research in developing countries


  • Kroeger, Axel


Research on health-seeking behaviour in developing countries is of both theoretical and practical relevance. It analyzes concepts of origin and management of illness, provides insights into people's use or non-use of traditional and/or modern health services available and finally it contributes to reveal perceptions regarding health care in particular settings. The paper first describes briefly the methodologies commonly used for analyzing the determinants and the pathways in the use of care. Then the extensive literature on health-seeking behaviour in developing countries is reviewed within an open-ended classification framework. The review shows a polarity between two major approaches, socio-medical and anthropological. The former emphasizes services factors such as accessibility, costs, acceptability, whereas the latter focuses primarily on aetiological concepts and world views. The main point of this review is to show that a combination of those two approaches is highly desirable: the different methods currently available should be combined in order to consider all the factors intervening in the use of health care. Fallacies in the quantitative analysis of medical pluralism and in the investigation of self-care are pointed out and some solutions offered. It is concluded that epidemiological and anthropological approaches should concentrate more intensively in order to contribute to the necessary improvement of adequate and environmentally adapted health services in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Kroeger, Axel, 1983. "Anthropological and socio-medical health care research in developing countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 147-161, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:17:y:1983:i:3:p:147-161

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    Cited by:

    1. Izquierdo, Carolina, 2005. "When "health" is not enough: societal, individual and biomedical assessments of well-being among the Matsigenka of the Peruvian Amazon," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 767-783, August.
    2. Stekelenburg, Jelle & Jager, Bastiaan E. & Kolk, Pascal R. & Westen, Esther H. M. N. & Kwaak, Anke van der & Wolffers, Ivan N., 2005. "Health care seeking behaviour and utilisation of traditional healers in Kalabo, Zambia," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 67-81, January.
    3. repec:eee:wdevel:v:104:y:2018:i:c:p:358-374 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Habtom, G., 2006. "Health Care Governance in Developing Countries : The Case of Eritrea," Other publications TiSEM 289e6243-bb73-4d66-a6a1-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Pouliot, Mariève, 2011. "Relying on nature’s pharmacy in rural Burkina Faso: Empirical evidence of the determinants of traditional medicine consumption," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(10), pages 1498-1507.
    6. repec:eee:socmed:v:202:y:2018:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Alexandra K. Heaney & Sandra J. Winter, 2016. "Climate-driven migration: an exploratory case study of Maasai health perceptions and help-seeking behaviors," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 61(6), pages 641-649, July.
    8. Sato, Azusa, 2012. "Does socio-economic status explain use of modern and traditional health care services?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(8), pages 1450-1459.
    9. Jehu-Appiah, Caroline & Aryeetey, Genevieve & Spaan, Ernst & de Hoop, Thomas & Agyepong, Irene & Baltussen, Rob, 2011. "Equity aspects of the National Health Insurance Scheme in Ghana: Who is enrolling, who is not and why?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 157-165, January.
    10. Majumder, Amlan, 2014. "Economics of health care utilisation: a study of self-reported morbidity and health seeking patterns in the districts of Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, India," EconStor Books, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, number 110899, September.
    11. Wild, Kayli & Barclay, Lesley & Kelly, Paul & Martins, Nelson, 2010. "Birth choices in Timor-Leste: A framework for understanding the use of maternal health services in low resource settings," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(11), pages 2038-2045, December.
    12. Wong, William C.W. & Gray, Sister Ann & Ling, Davina C. & Holroyd, Eleanor A., 2006. "Patterns of health care utilization and health behaviors among street sex workers in Hong Kong," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 140-148, July.
    13. Lindstrom, David P & Muñoz-Franco, Elisa, 2006. "Migration and maternal health services utilization in rural Guatemala," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 706-721, August.
    14. Seeberg, Jens & Pannarunothai, Supasit & Padmawati, Retna Siwi & Trisnantoro, Laksono & Barua, Nupur & Pandav, Chandrakant S., 2014. "Treatment seeking and health financing in selected poor urban neighbourhoods in India, Indonesia and Thailand," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 49-57.
    15. Friend-du Preez, Natalie & Cameron, Noël & Griffiths, Paula, 2013. "“So they believe that if the baby is sick you must give drugs…” The importance of medicines in health-seeking behaviour for childhood illnesses in urban South Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 43-52.

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