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Health Seeking Behavior of Physicians at the Jos University Teaching Hospital

PA Agaba
AN Ocheke
MO Akanbi
CA Daniyam
SO Ugoya
EN Okeke
EL Agaba


Background: Physicians who have the task of caring for the sick also need to be cared for when they take ill. Healthseeking habits of physicians have been found to be poor in most developed countries. Utilization of health services by physicians in developing countries is not known. We sought to describe the health seeking habits of physicians in Nigeria.

Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out among physicians at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, a tertiary referral health facility in North-central Nigeria. A pre-tested questionnaire was administered to physicians to get information on their self-reported health seeking habits.

Results: Self prescription was practiced by 98.6% of the physicians, with antimalarials being the most prescribed drugs (62.5%). Only 46.9% consulted another physician when they take ill, although 78.2% felt they needed a family physician. Many (23.8%) of respondents treated their family members when last sick. The major factors considered by the respondents in choosing the physician they consulted were the specialty of the physician consulted (42.2%); the physician being in the same unit with them (38.5%), and friendship (15.6%). Four (3.7%) of the respondents would not consider any particular factor for choosing a physician if they have to.

Conclusion: This study showed that a large proportion of physicians self-medicate and a few have family physicians. Guidelines need to be instituted to regulate self-prescribing among physicians in Nigeria. The role of family physicians in primary care needs to be emphasized.

Keywords: Family physicians, Health seeking behaviour, Self prescribing,