Objective: To identify common types of health service problems reported by South African adults during their most recent visit to a healthcare provider.
Design: Secondary analysis of South Africa's cross-sectional General Household Survey (GHS).
Setting: Nationally representative weighted sample of households in South Africa.
Participants: 23,562 household representatives interviewed during the 2010 GHS.
Main outcome measure: Problems experienced during the most recent visit to the usual healthcare provider.
Results: In total, 43.8% of participants reported experiencing at least one problem during their last visit; 19.1% reported multiple problems. The most common problems experienced were a long waiting time (34.8% of household representatives), needed drugs not being available (14.1%) and staff who were rude or uncaring or turned patients away (10.1%). Of the 73.6% of participants using public providers, 54.9% reported at least one problem; of the 26.4% of participants using private providers, only 18.0% reported a problem, usually cost. Similar differences in reported problems at public and private providers were reported for all racial/ethnic groups and income groups. Black Africans reported more problems than other population groups due in large part to being significantly more likely to use public providers.
Conclusions: Addressing commonly reported problem areas-in particular, long waiting times, unavailable medications and staff who are perceived as being unfriendly-might help prevent delayed care seeking, increase the acceptability of healthcare services and reduce remaining health disparities in South Africa.
Keywords: South Africa; health attitudes; health services accessibility; healthcare acceptability; healthcare systems; patient satisfaction.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press in association with the International Society for Quality in Health Care; all rights reserved.