What is the impact of water sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities on care seeking behaviour and patient satisfaction? A systematic review of the evidence from low-income and middle-income countries
Patient satisfaction with healthcare has clear implications on service use and health outcomes. Barriers to care seeking are complex and multiple and delays in seeking care are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. We sought to assess the relationship between water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) provision in healthcare facilities (HCF) and patient satisfaction/care seeking behaviour in low-income and middle-income countries. Pubmed and Medline Ovid were searched using a combination of search terms. 984 papers were retrieved and only 21 had a WASH component warranting inclusion. WASH was not identified as a driver of patient satisfaction but poor WASH provision was associated with significant patient dissatisfaction with infrastructure and quality of care. However, this dissatisfaction was not sufficient to stop patients from seeking care in these poorly served facilities. With specific regard to maternal health services, poor WASH provision was the reason for women choosing home delivery, although providers’ attitudes and interpersonal behaviours were the main drivers of patient dissatisfaction with maternal health services. Patient satisfaction was mainly assessed via questionnaires and studies reported a high risk of courtesy bias, potentially leading to an overestimation of patient satisfaction. Patient satisfaction was also found to be significantly affected by expectation, which was strongly influenced by patients’ socioeconomic status and education. This systematic review also highlighted a paucity of research to describe and evaluate interventions to improve WASH conditions in HCF in low-income setting with a high burden of healthcare-associated infections. Our review suggests that improving WASH conditions will decrease patience dissatisfaction, which may increase care seeking behaviour and improve health outcomes but that more rigorous research is needed.