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Social Correlates of Health choices: A study in Rural Tamil Nadu

Kannan, Srinivasan (2008): Social Correlates of Health choices: A study in Rural Tamil Nadu.

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Social Network suggests that the decisions are not made in isolation but they are outcome of influence and confluence of social correlates (Srinivasan and Sharan 2005). They are products of consultations with other members of the community or the institutions. Many at times they happen mutually. Social exchange theory suggests that the interaction by the individuals is based on the mutual transactions. This also helps one to build bond with others. This is an important aspect of health. In general it is observed that the health seeking behaviour of individuals is influenced by other members of the community. When a need arises a person interacts with others and exchanges feelings and emotions required for health. The present paper explains the health seeking behaviour using systems approach. According to the framework, Health is a system in which there are three subsystems, which have many sub elements within each sub-system (Srinivasan and Sharan 2005). The three subsystems described are individual, community and health administration. Health of an individual is an outcome of the interaction among the subsystems. For example, an individual’s choices are influenced by his or her characteristics, the community members, the availability and accessibility of required services and so on. In addition it is further influenced by the interactions among the sub-elements of all the three subsystems. For an example, the sub-elements of individuals such as age, educational qualifications, income, occupation, awareness and so on influence one’s decisions on health. Likewise, the sub-elements in the community subsystem such as affiliation (caste), religion, friendship, and social climate and affinity affect health choices affect the one’s decisions. The sub-elements of the health administration sub-system, such as, the availability (provision of services and medicine, and timing), the accessibility (location, connectivity and communication), and attitude of personnel, are also influencing health care choices. In total when a sick person while making decisions he or she is influenced by age, income, occupation, affiliation, religion, availability of facilities, accessibility of facilities, attitude of health personnel, and so on. The present paper studies the health seeking behaviour on the above framework. This is a cross sectional study which studies the impact of the three major subsystems of health among the rural population of two villages of Tamil Nadu.

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