Objective: To assess the magnitude of socio-economic disparities in health system responsiveness in India after correcting for potential reporting heterogeneity by socio-economic characteristics (education and wealth).
Methods: Data from Wave 1 of the Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (2007-2008) involving six Indian states were used. Seven health system responsiveness domains were considered for a respondent's last visit to an outpatient service in 12 months: prompt attention, dignity, clarity of information, autonomy, confidentiality, choice and quality of basic amenities. Hierarchical ordered probit models (correcting for reporting heterogeneity through anchoring vignettes) were used to assess the association of socio-economic characteristics with the seven responsiveness domains, controlling for age, gender and area of residence. Stratified analysis was also conducted among users of public and private health facilities.
Results: Our statistical models accounting for reporting heterogeneity revealed socio-economic disparities in all health system responsiveness domains. Estimates suggested that individuals from the lowest wealth group, for example, were less likely than individuals from the highest wealth group to report 'very good' on the dignity domain by 8% points (10% vs 18%). Stratified analysis showed that such disparities existed among users of both public and private health facilities.
Conclusion: Socio-economic disparities exist in health system responsiveness in India, irrespective of the type of health facility used. Policy efforts to monitor and improve these disparities are required at the health system level.