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Awareness and perception toward referral in health care: A study of adult residents in Ilorin, Nigeria

Author(s): Abodunrin O | Akande T | Osagbemi G

Journal: Annals of African Medicine
ISSN 1596-3519

Volume: 9;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 176;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Awareness | health care | perception | primary health care | referral

Background and Objective: The Nigeria Health System operates three levels of health care, which correspond to the tiers of government and interacts through a referral system. The national health policy recommends the Primary Health Care (PHC) as the entry point to health care system. However, these facilities are poorly managed leading to underutilization. Therefore, people usually attend any facility that will meet their needs, not considering the appropriateness of the level of care. This study is to determine the awareness and perception of adult residents in Ilorin toward referral in health care. Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive survey was conducted among 366 adult residents in Ilorin, selected by multi-stage sampling technique. Data were obtained using a semi-structured questionnaire, appropriately scored and analyzed with Epi-Info 2005 computer software. Results: Only 22 (6.0%) respondents knew that PHC is supposed to be the fi rst point of call when ill and 25 (6.8%) were aware that referral hospitals have the right to reject patients without referral. More than two third, 256 (69.9%) of the respondents felt it will be unreasonable for any hospital to reject patients on the basis of not being referred. The level of education was signifi cantly associated with the knowledge and perception of referral in the health care. Conclusion: There is low awareness and poor perception of referral protocol in the health care system among the people of Ilorin. The higher the level of education, the more knowledge the respondents have about referral in the health system and the more likely they have correct perception of referral in health care. The Nigeria health care system policy on referral and appropriate hospital utilization could be more effective if public awareness is created about it via the media while making effort to improve the credibility of the PHC.
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