Users, Non-users, Clients, and Help-seekers: The Use of Categories in Research on Health Behaviour

Carla Makhlouf Obermeyer

in Categories and Contexts

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199270576
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600883 | DOI:

Series: International Studies in Demography

Users, Non-users, Clients, and Help-seekers: The Use of Categories in Research on Health Behaviour

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Using two examples of research on health behaviour that combined quantitative and qualitative methods, this analysis shows that information that captures the perspectives of users can be at odds with the categories that predominate in demographic and public health analyses. The first case, from Egypt, illustrates the contradictory nature of the categories in which individuals are implicitly classified as consumer‐clients, citizens, or simply as individuals trying to find their way through a complicated system. It shows how these contradictory categorizations reflect the political context of health care. The second case, from Morocco, demonstrates how ethnographic research can question the relevance of survey categories such as users and non‐users of maternal health services. The research project found that the dichotomy between users and non‐users, which was crucial for statistical analyses, was challenged by evidence that detailed the more complex behaviour and attitudes of the majority of women regarding health care. Both cases show that integrating ethnography and statistical analyses can help reformulate research questions and lead to very different policy recommendations.

Keywords: Egypt; ethnography; health behaviour; health services; Morocco; user/non‐user categories

Chapter.  7333 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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