Determining the healthcare-seeking behaviour of communities in an emergency setting: Amathole District, Eastern Cape Province

Project description
Advancing the health system’s ability to reach the vulnerable populations of rural communities is essential in promoting positive healthcare-seeking behaviours. Two-thirds of all people in the Eastern Cape (EC) Province reside where poverty is rife. Factors such as unemployment and lack of education influence healthcare-seeking behaviours and limit access to Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Such communities’ decision-making around seeking access to and utilising EMS during urgent medical situations is influenced by the quality and responsiveness of the services. The project sought to determine the barriers that influence the healthcare-seeking behaviour of rural communities when accessing EMS. 
The HST team travelled to rural areas in EC, near Elliotdale, Idutywa, Gxojana and Stutterheim, where eight focus groups were conducted with groups divided into community members and leaders in each area. Using a semi-structured interview guide, questions to determine the knowledge and perceptions relating to EMS, care and health issues were addressed with the community leaders while those concerning in-depth knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and practice relating to emergency medical care and services were discussed with the community members. A questionnaire designed to measure the groups’ demographic and socio-economic characteristics was administered. In addition to translation of all data collection tools into the local language of the participants (isiXhosa), focus group discussions were conducted with the assistance of a trained fieldworker who was able to translate and back-translate in this language.
Data collected from community leaders and members in rural Amathole were analysed. The draft report is currently being reviewed, with plans to disseminate the findings through publication.
Project objectives
To determine: 
  • the communities’ attitude and perceptions towards and EMS
  • the communities’ knowledge of the services rendered by EMS and how to access these services
  • the communities’ knowledge regarding emergency health situations and ability to recognise emergency health conditions
  • the actions carried out by community members in a health emergency situation
  • the barriers to accessing the EMS in communities
Funder National Department of Health
Partners Eastern Cape Department of Health, Amathole District
Project team members
Project Director: Dr René English
Project Manager and Researcher: Tamlyn Seunanden
Researchers: Samukelisiwe Mahlawe, Nazia Peer, Thesandree Padayachee
Fieldwork: Zukiswa Ntshuntsha
Intern: Sabrina Chaudhry
Status Closed (report under review)

For further information, contact the Project Manager, Tamlyn Seunanden, at

Updated: August 2015