Perception of Health and Care Seeking Behaviors of Patients Living in High-Altitude Villages of Rural Nepal
Background: Nepal continues to struggle to increase its population access to healthcare, especially in rural and isolated villages where primary healthcare is offered through local health outposts. However, people often prefer to consult initially with traditional healers for minor issues as this is more aligned with their cultural beliefs and practices. Knowing that Nepal is undergoing healthcare reform, it would be timely to explore perceptions of health and care-seeking behaviors amongst patients living in high-altitude communities in rural Nepal for consideration in future planning and policy; which is the purpose of this qualitative study.
Methods: In-person, semi-structured interviews were conducted, with the use of a translator, with 17 participants, living in two rural villages. After transcribing the interviews, themes were identified using thematic analysis.
Results: People expressed the belief that they hold expertise in sustaining health due to their naturalistic lifestyle and community-focus developed within the context of a unique local culture and environment. When faced with a health problem, villagers are compelled to seek treatment from available healthcare offerings. Their care-seeking behavior and their eventual choice between Modern and Belief-based medicine is filtered through a number of considerations: the ease of its accessibility, the cost of services, their prior knowledge related to the illness, their belief system, and the severity of the medical situation.
Conclusion: This study indicates that better understanding of the perceptions of the rural Nepali is crucial in advocating for sustainable and culturally-sensitive delivery of healthcare.
Tweetable Abstract: Rural Nepali’s care-seeking behavior, rooted in naturalistic lifestyle and community-focus; however, contextual considerations oblige them to make choices between Modern and Belief-based medicine.
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