Exploring public perceptions of South African private and public hospitals and preferences for health care providers

Komape, Lebogang Johanna
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Introduction: The intention of this study is to explore how members of the South African public perceive private and public hospitals in the country. A better understanding of both positive and negative perceptions can guide improvements in public sector services and strengthen public confidence in the health system. Methodology: Eight focus groups, delineated in terms of race and experience with the public/private sectors were run. Thematic content analysis was used in analyses. Results: There was an almost-automatic perception that private hospitals are “better than” public hospitals. However with further exploration, a much more nuanced set of perceptions, acknowledging positive and negative components of each sector, emerged. Discussion: The key concepts arising from this study focussed around issues of trust and the acceptability of health services, which includes discipline, responsiveness, assurance, respect and dignity, choice of health care provider, confidentiality and communication .Currently within the introduction of a National Health Insurance v (NHI) system in South Africa, trust and acceptability of health services are crucial determinants of the extent of the buy-in that the public will demonstrate towards the planned changes.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Public Health. Johannesburg May 2013