Perceptions and factors affecting utilization of health services in a rural community in southern Nigeria
Good utilization of health services improves the health status of the population. However, the presence of health facilities alone is not enough to guarantee use as other socioeconomic factors could influence access and utilization. This study assessed the community perceptions and factors affecting the utilization of health services in a rural community in Southern Nigeria. A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out in Anegbette, a rural community in Etsako Central Local Government Area (LGA) of Edo State, Nigeria in 2011. Data was obtained through a structured, interviewer-administered questionnaire administered to adult respondents in two selected settlements in Anegbette using cluster sampling method. Over three-quarters of respondents, 219 (76.8%) utilized the health facilities. There was no statistical significant association in the utilization of health services with regard to gender (p=0.889, OR=1.04; 0.55-2.00), educational level (p=0.707, OR=1.16; 0.50-2.79) and age (p=0.839, OR=0.94; 0.51-1.72). Community perceptions of poor quality and inadequacy of available services, however, determined largely the level of use of the primary health care facility. The utilization of the primary health facility was good, community perceptions of poor quality and inadequacy of available services were identified barriers to satisfactory use of primary health services. Identified barriers to access and effective use of qualitative health care services in rural communities should be tackled by the relevant Local Government and State health authority.