Does socio-economic status explain use of modern and traditional health care services?

Soc Sci Med. 2012 Oct;75(8):1450-9. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.05.032. Epub 2012 Jul 4.


Although socioeconomic status is acknowledged to be an important determinant of modern health care utilisation, most analyses to date have failed to include traditional systems as alternative, or joint, providers of care. In developing countries, where pluralistic care systems are common, individuals are likely to be using multiple sources of health care, and the order in which systems are chosen is likely to vary according to income. This paper uses self-collected data from households in Ghana and econometric techniques (biprobit modelling and ordered logit) to show that rising income is associated with modern care use whilst decreasing income is associated with traditional care use. When utilisation is analysed in order, results show rising income to have a positive effect on choice of modern care as a first provider, whilst choosing it second, third or never is associated with decreasing income. The effects of income on utilisation patterns of traditional care are stronger: as income rises, utilisation of traditional care as a first choice decreases. Policy should incorporate traditional care into the general utilisation framework and recognise that strategies which increase income may encourage wider utilisation of modern over traditional care, whilst high levels of poverty will see continued use of traditional care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Empirical Research
  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Econometric
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Class*
  • Young Adult