Gender, socioeconomic development and health-seeking behaviour in Bangladesh

Soc Sci Med. 2000 Aug;51(3):361-71. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(99)00461-x.


In efforts to reduce gender and socioeconomic disparities in the health of populations, the provision of medical services alone is clearly inadequate. While socioeconomic development is assumed important in rectifying gender and socioeconomic inequities in health care access, service use and ultimately, outcomes, empirical evidence of its impact is limited. Using cross-sectional data from the BRAC-ICDDR,B Joint Research Project in Matlab, Bangladesh, this paper examines the impact of membership in BRAC's integrated Rural Development Programme (RDP) on gender equity and health-seeking behaviour. Differences in health care seeking are explored by comparing a sample of households who are BRAC members with a sample of BRAC-eligible non-members. Individuals from the BRAC member group report significantly less morbidity (15-day recall) than those from the non-member group, although no gender differences in the prevalence of self-reported morbidity are apparent in either group. Sick individuals from BRAC member households tend to seek care less frequently than non-members. When treatment is sought, BRAC members rely to a greater extent on home remedies, traditional care, and unqualified allopaths than non-member households. While reported treatment seeking from qualified allopaths is more prevalent in the BRAC group, non-members use the para-professional services of community health care workers almost twice as frequently. In both BRAC member and non-member groups, women suffering illness report seeking care significantly less often than men. The policy and programmatic implications of between group and gender differences in care seeking are discussed with reference to the literature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bangladesh
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class