Health seeking behaviour among cancer patients using Geographic Information System: A Mixed-Methods study from Western India
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Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi India
All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1503
Background and objective:
Cancer prognosis is dependent on early diagnosis and treatment as well as on awareness, beliefs, accessibility, and affordability of the health services. Delay in seeking health care by patients increases mortality risk. This study has been undertaken in rural Jodhpur (Rajasthan, Western India) to determine health-seeking behavior related to common cancers and the factors affecting them.

A community-based mixed-methods study was conducted in randomly chosen one-third villages (37 villages out of total 113 villages were included in the study) of Mandore block of Jodhpur. Data was collected from individuals diagnosed with cancer/their relatives. In-Depth Interviews (IDI) were conducted with frontline workers, cancer survivors, and their caregivers. A geographic information system (GIS) was also used to depict health care facilities accessed by cancer patients.

A total 82983 population was covered in 37 villages. Among the population covered, 146 participants were diagnosed cancer cases. About one-third (34.2%) preferred alternative medicine along with allopathic medicine. The behavior of changing hospitals frequently was depicted maximum by patients suffering from primary brain tumors (62.5%, 5). Forty-five (31%) participants did not continue their treatment after initiation. From the content analysis of IDI, major factors for delays in health-seeking were misconceptions, superstitions, stigmatization, financial burden, miscommunication from doctors, no proper referral mechanism, unfelt need to visit healthcare. Awareness of risk factors was limited to tobacco and alcohol. None of the participants were aware of screening services provided and the benefits of screening services. Availability of initial treatment at peripheral centers, and training activities for frontline workers and teachers were the major recommendations to improve cancer prevention and control.

Alternative medicine usage was common among cancer patients. Leaving treatment in-between was also observed among one-third of participants. Misconceptions, superstitions, stigmatization, financial burden were major factors enlisted for health-seeking delays.

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