Health seeking behavior among nurses working in public hospitals in Kakamega County, Kenya
Mchidi, Nebert .K.
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Health seeking behaviour refers to actions undertaken by a person who perceives self to be ill for the purpose of finding an appropriate remedy. Nurses as gate keepers of health are expected to seek formal treatment when they are taken ill because this is what they teach and expect of their patients. Their working conditions world over have been described as squalid with long working hours, often cited as accruing from workload and the general nature of nursing work, a scenario that predisposes them to occupational health hazards at the same time denying them time off to look after their own health. Nurses are knowledgeable about disease and its treatment, have access to health care and health insurance. However, there is evidence that nurses engage in self treatment and kerbside consultations, a complete contrast of what they expect of their patients. It is in this regard that health seeking behavior among nurses in Kakamega County was investigated. The main objective of the study was to explore health seeking behaviour among nurses working in public hospitals in Kakamega County. A cross-sectional study was carried out in Kakamega County. Data was collected using self administered questionnaires and subjected to univariate, bivariate and binary logistic regression analysis. The study found that 62% (n=116) of the nurses utilized formal health care when they were last ill, 33% (n=61)) engaged in voluntary screening services and 34.8% (n=65) said that they knew their health would be better if they engaged in health promotion activities. Majority, 70% (n=81) of the females utilized formal health services as opposed to 30% (n=35) of the males. Increasing nursing education seemed to drive informal treatment, as 79.3% (n=92) of those with a diploma and below utilized formal care as opposed to 20.7% (n=24) of the nurses with a higher diploma and above. Further, there was a significant association between predisposing factors of number of years worked as a nurse (χ² = 6.072, df= 1, p=0.014); and support nurses receive from the immediate supervisor (χ² = 5.068, df= 1, p=0.024) with health seeking behavior. There was also a significant association between enabling factors of satisfaction with health services accessible to nurses in the County (χ² = 8.548, df= 1, p=0.003) and the quality of health services in the County (χ² = 8.680, df= 1, p=0.003) with health seeking behavior. Finally, there was a significant association between the need factors of severity of illness (χ² = 8.628, df= 1, p=0.003) and current general health (χ² = 8.086, df= 1, p=0.004) with health seeking behavior of nurses. The study also found that nurses whose general health was good were less likely to use formal care (β= -0.822, OR= 0.439, p= 0.044, 95% CI= 0.197-0.979). The study concludes that the predisposing, enabling and need factors are significant in explaining the health seeking behavior of nurses in Kakamega County and recommends empowering young and male nurses to utilize formal care through education. It also recommends that the County involves nurses in investing in quality health care.