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Title: Choice of primary health care source in an urbanized low-income community in Singapore: A mixed-methods study
Authors: Wee, L.E.
Lim, L.Y.
Shen, T.
Lee, E.Y.
Chia, Y.H.
Tan, A.Y.S.
Koh, G.C.-H. 
Keywords: Asia
Low income
Primary care
Traditional medicine
Issue Date: Feb-2014
Citation: Wee, L.E., Lim, L.Y., Shen, T., Lee, E.Y., Chia, Y.H., Tan, A.Y.S., Koh, G.C.-H. (2014-02). Choice of primary health care source in an urbanized low-income community in Singapore: A mixed-methods study. Family Practice 31 (1) : 81-91. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Introduction. Cost and misperceptions may discourage lower income Singaporeans from utilizing primary care. We investigated sources of primary care in a low-income Singaporean community in a mixed-methods study. Methods. Residents of a low-income public rental flat neighbourhood were asked for sociodemographic details and preferred source of primary care relative to their higher income neighbours. In the qualitative component, interviewers elicited, from patients and health care providers, barriers/enablers to seeking care from Western-trained doctors. Interviewees were selected via purposive sampling. Transcripts were analyzed thematically, and iterative analysis was carried out using established qualitative method. Results. Participation was 89.8% (359/400). Only 11.1% (40/359) preferred to approach Western-trained doctors, 29.5% (106/359) preferred alternative medicine, 6.7% (24/359) approached family/friends and 52.6% (189/359) preferred self-reliance. Comparing against higher income neighbours, rental flat residents were more likely to turn to alternative medicine and family members but less likely to turn to Western-trained doctors (P < 0.001). For the qualitative component, a total of 20 patients and 9 providers were interviewed before data saturation was reached. Patient and provider comments fell into the following content areas: primary care characteristics, knowledge, costs, priorities, attitudes and information sources. Self-reliance was perceived as acceptable for 'small' illnesses but not for 'big' ones, communal spirit was cited as a reason for consulting family/friends and social distance from primary care practitioners was highlighted as a reason for not consulting Western-trained doctors. Conclusion. Western-trained physicians are not the first choice of lower income Singaporeans for seeking primary care. Knowledge, primary care characteristics and costs were identified as potential barriers/enablers. © The Author 2013.
Source Title: Family Practice
ISSN: 02632136
DOI: 10.1093/fampra/cmt064
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