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BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Good health is the basis on which social progress is built. A nation needs to promote good health status of her citizens in order to be productive and contribute positively to its development and progress of the country. In order to protect and promote the health of the individual, there should be utilization of Healthcare Services for the protection, promotion and maintenance of the health of the individual as well as the treatment of diseases and ailments. All these can only be achieved if there are effective healthcare services for the people. These services if utilized will help in eliminating or reducing the health problems of the people in any given community. Good healthcare services need to be made available for the students to take care of their health so that they could achieve the goal of being in school. The students are a vibrant group whose health needs adequate care. They are a group of people still growing fast and everything should be done to protect their health. Most of the students are at the peak of their productive years and as such, they need adequate care of their health in order to meet their aspiration in life, as well as to help build the society in which they find themselves (Lee et al., 2003).
The term health care services cover a wide range of services in health promotion, illness prevention, early detection of diseases and management of health problems within the community. Health care services are designed to meet the health needs of the community through the use of available health facilities with health manpower carrying out their professional duties (Obiechina and Ekendedo, 2013). A health care facility, in general, is any location where health care is provided. Health facilities range from small clinics and doctor’s offices to urgent care centers and large hospitals with elaborate emergency rooms and trauma centers (Okafor et al., 2011).
It is assumed that awareness of health leads to improvement in life expectancy, which is a robust indicator of human development. A simple channel through which health affects human development is by improving living conditions. The mere provision of health facilities does not necessarily imply increased or improved utilization of health services by communities; major factors that influence health facility use include distance to facilities, cost of services, cultural beliefs of the individual, nature of illness and quality of the health services available (Ager and pepper, 2005)
Utilization of health and medical services are the ways in which individuals respond to ill health and disease. Many factors may influence this response, including characteristics of the individual and their ability to access the type of resources they may need in their quest to deal with their ill health. There is a clear distinction in the literature between health care seeking which emphasizes the ‘end point’ use of services and health-seeking which emphasizes the wider ‘process’ (Mackian et al., 2004).
Institutions of higher education (i.e. universities, colleges) provide a venue for providing health information education, reducing high health risk behaviours and providing interventions to assist students in coping with their health problems/issues. “Leaving home to attend the university and living in residence is a crucial time which can influence this individuals to make healthy or unhealthy lifestyle choices which can impact health practices and the development of conditions for the remainder of their lives” (Makrides, 2003).
According to Chitalu (2009), poor funding of most universities in Africa is affected by the type of health facilities available. Lifestyle choices, health beliefs and resource availability affect the health perception and behaviour of individuals. Health services are designed to meet the health needs of the community through the use of available health facilities with health manpower carrying out their professional duties. In a study conducted on daily nutrition of university students that lived away from their families, different factors have been attributed to health behavior of most university students (Tunde et al., 2014). Most health care facilities in the Nigerian University environment are mere dispensary or first aid treatment centers. This is because they are not supplied with adequate drugs and health care instruments that can meet the emerging trends of health crisis (Fayeye, 2009). As it is known that every university has its own health centre, where students seek first hand health service. Students encounter problems while making attempts to access health care in the university health care; the challenges usually encountered have implications on their level of utilization. If students are well attended to and the administration system adjudged by the students to be superb, it will influence their decision to re-visit the health centre when the need arises, otherwise, the students seek health care far away from school. The probable reason while some students prefer going back home to meet their parents when they fall ill. Moreover, the factors that influence university students’ decision to seek professional care are dynamic. In Nigeria, university student face series of stresses to access health care, the administration process and the lackadaisical behaviour of some staff to students’ ill-health have substantial influence on their decision to seek health care at the university health centre. Most of the university health centres in the country are underequipped or lack sophisticated equipment to treat chronic and degenerating diseases like diabetics, asthma, and hepatitis among others. Some do not have sufficient drugs to treat infectious diseases like malaria, typhoid and dysentery to mention but a few. The study carried out by (Chitalu, 2009).
According to Tunde et al. (2014), Nigerian University Students face series of stresses in accessing health care, the administration process and lackadaisical behaviour of some staff to students ill health have substantial influence on their decision to seek health care at the university health center. It is on this background that this present study is hence, conducted to examine the level of awareness and utilization of university health care services among undergraduate student nurses, of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Previous work done has shown that cost of health services, distance of health facilities, waiting time and quality of care, were found to be contributory to the non-utilization of health facilities by students (Adekunle et al., 2006). Moreover, the factors that influence university students’ decision to seek professional care are dynamic (Chitalu, 2009). It has been observed from discussion with colleagues that most students prefer going back home to meet their parents whenever they are ill. Most students do not realize that the school even has a healthcare service to attend to students and staff alike when the need arises. Therefore this research is set to evaluate the awareness and utilization of the university health care services by student nurses in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.
OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The broad objective of this study is to assess students awareness and utilization of healthcare services in Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma. The following objectives were formulated:
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The findings from the study will be used to sensitize students on the importance of regular medical check-up and treatment in a health care facility and to highlight the dangers of self-medication, thereby improving the students’ utilization of healthcare services.
Ho: There is a significant relationship between the awareness about health care services and the utilization of health care services by student nurses of Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma.
SCOPE OF STUDY
This study is delimited to student nurses in Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, to investigate the awareness and utilization of healthcare services and factors affecting the utilization of health care services by student nurses of Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma. Male and female student nurses will be used for this work.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
There could be recall bias. Although the respondents are requested to complete the questtionaire independently, discussion between the respondents cannot be entirely ruled out. The time frame could also be a limiting factor.
Health: The physical, mental and social state of a person.
Healthcare centre: A building where healthcare services are rendered.
Healthcare service: A business entity that provides inpatient or outpatient testing or treatment of human disease or dysfunction; dispensing of drugs or medical devices for treating human disease or dysfunction.
Student nurse: A student undergoing nursing training
Awareness: The conscious idea a person has about something
Utilization: the use of an entity or commodity.
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