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Mapping Health-Seeking Behaviours and Influences in Rural China: A behavioural systems approach

Format: Papers, RSD12, RSD12 Papers Pre-release

Haiou Zhu, Cees De Bont, Thorsten Gruber and Hua Dong
This paper explores the complex terrain of health-seeking behaviours and choices in rural China, underpinned by both systemic and behavioural influences. Existing literature has elucidated the urban-rural disparities in health resources and access to healthcare, which have profound implications on rural communities. Furthermore, these disparities are exacerbated by the intricate psychology of health-seeking behaviours, which are often impeded by factors such as cognitive abilities, emotional distress, health beliefs, and mistrust of the healthcare system. To provide a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of these issues, the study adopted a mixed methods research design, integrating document analysis, semi-structured interviews, narrative stories, and surveys.
The research was conducted in rural Yunnan Province, selected for its high rural population and ethnic minority representation, offering a rich context to explore health-seeking behaviours. Data sources included healthcare policy documents, interviews with healthcare professionals, personal narrative diaries, and surveys of rural residents, providing a holistic perspective of the healthcare system, from policy to personal experience. The collected data was then subjected to a convergent design analysis, involving independent analysis of qualitative and quantitative data sets and subsequent integration of findings. The integration leveraged the Behavioural Systems Mapping (BSM) framework, a novel method for synthesising evidence and visually representing complex systems.
The study identified intricate behavioural patterns and key influences on health-seeking behaviours and decisions in rural China, which included lack of disease prevention, undervaluing of freely available medical products and services, limited access to family doctor services, and a significant influence of cultural beliefs and social networks. The findings, embedded within the healthcare system’s context, offer a valuable foundation for designing inclusive and sustainable health interventions.
Keywords: rural healthcare
mix-methods design
behavioural systems mapping
health seeking behaviours
health choices
health interventions

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Citation Data

Author(s): Haiou Zhu, Cees De Bont, Thorsten Gruber and Hua Dong
Year: 2023
Title: Mapping Health-Seeking Behaviours and Influences in Rural China: A behavioural systems approach
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/behavioural-approach-to-health-seeking-in-china
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD12

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