The concept of health-seeking behaviour continues to permeate the development literature, and this paper reviews the main approaches. However, it also suggests that health-seeking behaviour is a somewhat over-utilized and under-theorized 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, 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. The paper suggests one way in which we might start to frame the debate, using reflexive communities and social capital as key theoretical and analytical concepts.
Health Policy and Planning, 19 (3), 137-146 pp. [doi:10.1093/heapol/czh017]