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Psychosoc Med. 2012;9:Doc11. doi: 10.3205/psm000089. Epub 2012 Oct 25.

Re-revisiting Andersen's Behavioral Model of Health Services Use: a systematic review of studies from 1998-2011.

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Osnabrück University, School of Human Sciences, Dept. of New Public Health, Osnabrück, Germany.



This systematic review aims to assess the use and implementation of the Behavioral Model of Health Services Use developed by Ronald M. Andersen in recent studies explicity using this model.


A systematic search was conducted using PubMed in April 2011. The search strategy aimed to identify all articles in which the Andersen model had been applied and which had been published between 1998 and March 2011 in English or German. The search yielded a total of 328 articles. Two researchers independently reviewed the retrieved articles for possible inclusion using a three-step selection process (1. title/author, 2. abstract, 3. full text) with pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria for each step. 16 studies met all of the inclusion criteria and were used for analysis. A data extraction form was developed to collect information from articles on 17 categories including author, title, population description, aim of the study, methodological approach, use of the Andersen model, applied model version, and main results. The data collected were collated into six main categories and are presented accordingly.


Andersen's Behavioral Model (BM) has been used extensively in studies investigating the use of health services. The studies identified for this review showed that the model has been used in several areas of the health care system and in relation to very different diseases. The 1995 version of the BM was the version most frequently applied in the studies. However, the studies showed substantial differences in the variables used. The majority of the reviewed studies included age (N=15), marital status (N=13), gender/sex (N=12), education (N=11), and ethnicity (N=10) as predisposing factors and income/financial situation (N=10), health insurance (N=9), and having a usual source of care/family doctor (N=9) as enabling factors. As need factors, most of the studies included evaluated health status (N=13) and self-reported/perceived health (N=9) as well as a very wide variety of diseases. Although associations were found between the main factors examined in the studies and the utilization of health care, there was a lack of consistency in these findings. The context of the studies reviewed and the characteristics of the study populations seemed to have a strong impact on the existence, strength and direction of these associations.


Although the frequently used BM was explicitly employed as the theoretical background for the reviewed studies, their operationalizations of the model revealed that only a small common set of variables was used and that there were huge variations in the way these variables were categorized, especially as it concerns predisposing and enabling factors. This may stem from the secondary data sets used in the majority of the studies, which limited the variables available for study. Primary studies are urgently needed to enrich our understanding of health care utilization and the complexity of the processes shown in the BM.


Behavioral Model of Health Services Use; enabling factors; health services utilization; need factors; predisposing factors; systematic review

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