Factors of social inequality reproduction in the sphere of medical services consumption

Vyalykh N.А.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Assoc. Prof., Institute of Sociology and Regional Studies, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia sociology4.1@yandex.ru

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Vyalykh N.А. Factors of social inequality reproduction in the sphere of medical services consumption. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2015. No 11. P. 126-132


The paper is devoted to the problem of medical services consumption. The aim of this article is to identify and describe the features of medical behaviour based on the data of the author’s pilot sociological survey in Rostov-on-Don (N – 766). Particular attention is given to economic, organizational and socio-cultural dimensions of medical consumption. It is shown in detail how social environment and social position of a potential patient affect the production of help-seeking strategy and outcome of its realization. Results of study suggest that there are significant social differences in possibilities to get adequate and timely medical service in Rostov-on-Don. The figures show that inequality in access to medical services is determined by level of income, age, health status. Thus, compared to young persons who have high income, good health status, old persons and social groups wiht low income, chronic diseases report more difficulties in getting needed care and are less likely to have regular contacts with medical providers. Besides, socially vulnerable groups assess significantly lower availability and quality of medical services in the city. Economic, organizational and socio-cultural barriers in medical services, such as paid health, long waiting for help and lack of knowledge about healthcare system induce alternative consumers’ strategies: self-medication, unconventional treatment or rejection of professional medical services. In conclusion author stresses that the article is of certain significance to future fundamental empirical as well as theoretical research of cultural, social, institutional and biomedical factors of social differentiation in the health sphere.

consumption; medical services; help-seeking strategies; informal and formal payments; indicators of medical consumption; accessibility of medical care
Content No 11, 2015