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BMC Womens Health. 2013 May 24;13:26. doi: 10.1186/1472-6874-13-26.

"It's not easy to acknowledge that I'm ill": a qualitative investigation into the health seeking behavior of rural Palestinian women.

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UNICEF Bethlehem, West Bank occupied Palestinian territory, Heidelberg, Germany.



This qualitative study sets to fill a gap in knowledge by exploring the health seeking behaviour of rural women living in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). The existing literature on the oPt has so far focused on unravelling the country's epidemiological and health system profile, but has largely neglected the assessment of factors shaping people's decisions on health care use.


Based on a conceptual framework rooted in the Anderson behavioural model, we conducted 30 semi-structured interviews with purposely selected women and seven key informant interviews in three purposely selected villages in Ramallah district.


Our findings indicate that women delay seeking professional care, use self-prescribed medications and home treatment, and do not use preventive and educational health services. Their health seeking behaviour is the result of the interplay of several factors: their gendered socio-cultural role; their health beliefs; financial affordability and geographical accessibility; their perceptions of the quality of care; and their perceived health needs.


Findings are discussed in the light of their policy implications, suggesting that adequate health policy planning ought to take into considerations socio-cultural dimensions beyond those directly pertinent to the health care system.

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