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To better understand healthcare use for diarrhoea and dysentery in Nha Trang, Viet Nam, qualitative interviews with community residents and dysentery case studies were conducted. Findings were supplemented by a quantitative survey which asked respondents which healthcare provider their household members would use for diarrhoea or dysentery. A clear pattern of healthcare-seeking behaviours among 433 respondents emerged. More than half of the respondents self-treated initially. Medication for initial treatment was purchased from a pharmacy or with medication stored at home. Traditional home treatments were also widely used. If no improvement occurred or the symptoms were perceived to be severe, individuals would visit a healthcare facility. Private medical practitioners are playing a steadily increasing role in the Vietnamese healthcare system. Less than a quarter of diarrhoea patients initially used government healthcare providers at commune health centres, polyclinics, and hospitals, which are the only sources of data for routine public-health statistics. Given these healthcare-use patterns, reported rates could significantly underestimate the real disease burden of dysentery and diarrhoea.



Journal of health, population, and nutrition

Publication Date





139 - 149


University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Humans, Diarrhea, Population Surveillance, Health Care Surveys, Prevalence, Odds Ratio, Risk Factors, Social Class, Poverty, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Delivery of Health Care, Health Services Accessibility, Vietnam, Female, Male, Interviews as Topic