The health seeking behaviour of visually impaired patients: a case study of Kikuyu Eye Hospital, Kiambu District
Visual impairment is a major public health problem globally causing substantial social and economic toll on individuals and society. In Kenya, eye diseases are ranked eighth in terms of morbidity according to Ministry of Health records. The study was carried out on the blind patients seeking help at Kikuyu Eye unit to assess the factors influencing their health seeking behaviour. The study was guided by three objectives i) To investigate knowledge and attitudes related to eye illnesses among patients and their relatives. ii) To explore the factors which influence the decision to seek formal health care services among the patients with visual impairment. iii) To identify and investigate the existence of alternative forms of health care and their influence on the delay to seek formal health care services. It was a survey design where the respondents were purposively sampled based on their willingness to be included in the study. There were also some key informants; among them doctors, and nurses working at the unit. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire for the patients and an interview schedule for the key informants. The main findings from the study are that many patients were not aware of the presence of eye care services in their localities, and that the family was very important in the process of decision making to seek help from formal health care. Patients were noted to consult relatives and members of the family before making the decision. They were also noted to use other channels of treatment like using over the counter drugs and use of traditional eye medicine. Based on the findings from the study there is need to increase awareness through health education, as well as improving the eye care system to cater for those patients coming from far flung regions.