Private care and public health: do vaccination and prenatal care rates differ between users of private versus public sector care in India?

Health Serv Res. 2004 Dec;39(6 Pt 2):2013-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2004.00330.x.


Objective: To determine whether patients who use private sector providers for curative services have lower vaccination rates and are less likely to receive prenatal care.

Data sources/study setting: This study uses data from the 52d round of the National Sample Survey, a nationally representative socioeconomic and health survey of 120,942 rural and urban Indian households conducted in 1995-1996.

Study design: Using logistic regression, we estimate the relationship between receipt of preventive care at any time (vaccinations for children, prenatal care for pregnant women) and use of public or private care for outpatient curative services, controlling for demographics, household socioeconomic status, and state of residence.

Data collection/extraction methods: We analyzed samples of children ages 0 to 4 and pregnant women who used medical care within a 15-day window prior to the survey.

Principal findings: With the exception of measles vaccination, predicted probabilities of the receipt of vaccinations and prenatal care do not differ based on the type of provider at which children and women sought curative care. Children and pregnant women in households who use private care are almost twice as likely to receive preventive care from private sources, but the majority still obtains preventive care from public providers.

Conclusions: We do not find support for the hypothesis that children and pregnant women who use private care are less likely to receive public health services. Results are consistent with the notion that Indian households are able to successfully navigate the coexisting public and private systems, and obtain services selectively from each. However, because the study employed an observational, cross-sectional study design, findings should be interpreted cautiously.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Private Sector*
  • Public Health*
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*