Background: This study assessed service/organisational factors and clients' perceptions that influenced utilisation of Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities in a rural community in Nigeria.
Method: A cross-sectional household survey in the community as well as key-informant interviews of opinion leaders and health care providers and participant observations of health facilities and utilisation pattern was used to collect data.
Results: Forty-four percent of respondents to the survey who were ill in the preceding six months visited a PHC facility for treatment, while others relied on self-medication/self-treatment. Education was positively associated with utilisation of PHC services (P<0.05). Maternal and child health (45.4%), prompt attention (23.0%), and appropriate outpatient (20.5%) services attracted respondents to use PHC services. Poor education about when to seek care, poverty, perceived high cost of PHC services, lack of drugs and basic laboratory services, and a regular physician on site at the facility were identified as barriers to utilisation.
Conclusion: We conclude that community perceptions of poor quality and inadequacy of available services was responsible for low use of PHC services.