Acceptable Care? Illness Constructions, Healthworlds, and Accessible Chronic Treatment in South Africa Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Achieving equitable access to health care is an important policy goal, with access influenced by affordability, availability, and acceptability of specific services. We explore patient narratives from a 5-year program of research on health care access to examine relationships between social constructions of illness and the acceptability of health services in the context of tuberculosis treatment and antiretroviral therapy in South Africa. Acceptability of services seems particularly important to the meanings patients attach to illness and care, whereas-conversely-these constructions appear to influence what constitutes acceptability and hence affect access to care. We highlight the underestimated role of individually, socially, and politically constructed healthworlds; traditional and biomedical beliefs; and social support networks. Suggested policy implications for improving acceptability and hence overall health care access include abandoning patronizing approaches to care and refocusing from treating "disease" to responding to "illness" by acknowledging and incorporating patients' healthworlds in patient-provider interactions.

publication date

  • May 2015

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