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Health Policy. 2004 Jun;68(3):333-44.

A large proportion of Swedish citizens refrain from seeking medical care--lack of confidence in the medical services a plausible explanation?

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  • 1Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, 751 85 Uppsala, Sweden.


Equity in health and health care is and has been a long-standing goal in Swedish health care politics. This study aims to look into how different socio-demographic variables influence unmet needs i.e. why one would refrain from seeing a doctor, despite a perceived need for medical care. A nation-wide postal questionnaire was answered by 2648 (66%) randomly chosen individuals in the ages between 20 and 64 years. The questionnaire included questions on health and health care utilisation along with data on different socio-demographic variables. The proportion of citizens that refrain from visiting a physician despite a perceived need was higher (24%) than in any previous Swedish investigation. Women, those of a non-Swedish origin and those with a low level of education refrained from going to the physician to a higher extent than men, inborn citizens and those with a higher education. Stated reasons to why the respondents refrained from medical care were associated with confidence, primarily, finite availability and economy. It appears as the Swedish health care system is not fully adapted to provide for the so far unmet needs of a large proportion of the population and that this has equitable concerns.

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