Access to primary health care services for persons with disabilities in rural areas
Citation: Dassah E, Aldersey H, McColl M, et al. Factors affecting access to primary health care services for persons with disabilities in rural areas: a “best fit” framework synthesis. Global Health Research and Policy 2018; 3: 36
What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a great strain on healthcare services, with the potential for further reducing access to care for people with disabilities who reside in rural areas. Information on factors that influence this access may help to inform policies and practice.
In this evidence synthesis, the authors searched for research into factors affecting access to primary healthcare services by persons with disabilities living in rural areas. They restricted their searches to English language, peer-reviewed studies that were published between 2006 and 2017. They identified 36 studies (30 qualitative, four quantitative and two mixed methods). 26 of the studies were done in low- and middle-income countries.
What was found: Persons with disabilities in rural areas were unable to access primary healthcare services due to the interplay of four main factors: availability, acceptability, geography and affordability.
Limited availability of healthcare facilities and services and perceived low quality of care meant that those in need of healthcare services often had to travel in order to access it. This was made worse by transportation problems.
Even if health services were available, most people could not afford the cost.
Healthcare providers should be trained to improve communication skills with persons with disabilities to help improve healthcare delivery and raise awareness of appropriate services closer to home.
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