This review of health seeking behaviour outlines the main approaches within the field, and summarises some of the key findings from recent work around the probes. However, it also suggests that health seeking behaviour is a somewhat over-utilised and under-theorised tool. Although it remains a valid tool for rapid appraisal of a particular issue at a particular time, it is of little use as it stands to explore the wider relationship between populations and health systems development. If we wish to move the debate into new and more fruitful arenas, this review reaches the conclusion that we need to develop a tool for understanding how populations engage with health systems, rather than using health seeking behaviour as a tool for describing how individuals engage with services. This opens up into the broader arena of community organisation, social capital and citizenship; of political and non-political pressure points on the system. The paper suggests one way in which we might start to frame the debate in the context of this programme of work, using social capital and reflexive communities as key theoretical and analytical concepts.
UOM/HSD Working paper, HSD/WP/05/03, 27 pp.