Beyond health gain: : the range of health system benefits expressed by social groups in Mexico and Central America
Current health reform proposals in most developing countries stress health gain as the chief evaluation criterion. Essential service packages are formulated using cost-effectiveness methods for the selection of interventions without sufficient regard for other factors that are significant for successful implementation and acceptance by the needy. This paper presents the results of research undertaken in Mexico and Central America to test the hypothesis that population groups view health gain as only one among several benefits derived from health systems. The goal at this stage was two-fold: (a) to identify through qualitative methods the range of benefits that are significant for a wide cross-section of social groups and (b) to classify such benefits in types amenable to be used in the development of instruments to measure the benefits intended and actually produced by health systems. Fourteen focus groups were undertaken in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua representing diverse age, gender, occupation and social conditions. Six major types of health system benefits were identified besides health gain: reassurance/uncertainty reduction, economic security, confidence in health system quality, financial benefits derived from the system, health care process utility and health system fairness. Benefits most often mentioned can be classed under health care process utility and confidence in system quality. They also have the most consensus across social groups. Other benefits mentioned have an affinity with social conditions. Human resource-derived utility stands out by its frequency in the range of benefits mentioned. Health systems and health sector reform proposals must emphasise those aspects of quality related to human resources to be in accord with population expectations.
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Volume (Year): 52 (2001)
Issue (Month): 10 (May)
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