This paper assesses the relationship between poverty and patient abandonment and its effect on health care services in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria. A survey design was adopted, data were collected through questionnaires and interviews, including secondary data from the hospital records. A total of 100 respondents which were stratified into hospital workers and patients were used for the research. Field data confirmed that cultural interpretation and perception of poverty bordered on economic and welfare dimensions and that there is a significant relationship between poverty and patient abandonment. Patient's abandonment was generally condemned and described variously as a demonstration of wickedness, wretchedness and ungodliness by respondents. Such behaviour deleteriously affected health care services as stringent measures are often evolved by hospital management which further frustrates admission of indigent patients into the wards for treatment. Although the public generally believes that government should subsidize or offer free medical treatment to Nigerians, the research finding has confirmed that such perception has no relationship with patient abandonment.
KEY WORDS: Poverty, Patient Abandonment , Health care, Culture, Illness.
Global Jnl Medical Sciences Vol.2(2) 2003: 161-170