Inpatient healthcare provider bypassing by women and their children in urban Bo, Sierra Leone

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Introduction: bypassing refers to a person's decision to seek care at a healthcare facility that is not the nearest one of its type to the person's home.

Methods: this study examined inpatient care facility bypassing in urban Bo, Sierra Leone using data from 1,980 women with children 15 years of age and younger who were interviewed in 2010-2011. The locations of residential structures and hospitals were identified using a geographic information system (GIS), and the road distances from participating households to the nearest and preferred inpatient care facilities were measured.

Results: nine inpatient care facilities serve Bo residents, but more than 70% of the participating women reported that the city's main public hospital (Bo Government Hospital), located in the city center, was their preferred inpatient care provider. Participants resided within a median distance of 0.9 km (Interquartile range (IQR): 0.6, 1.8) from their closest inpatient facility, but they would travel a median distance of 2.4 km (IQR: 1.0, 3.3) to reach their preferred providers. About 87% of the women would bypass their nearest inpatient care facility to access care at a preferred provider. Bypassing rates were similar for various demographic and socioeconomic groups, but higher for women living farther from the city center.

Conclusion: although Bo has a diverse healthcare marketplace, access to affordable advanced care options is limited. Most women in Bo would choose to bypass facilities nearer to their homes to seek the low-cost and comprehensive care offered by Bo Government Hospital.