The role of trust in health-seeking for non-communicable disease services in fragile contexts: A cross-country comparative study

Stella Arakelyan* (Lead Author), Kanykey Jailobaeva, Arek Dakessian, Karin Diaconu, Lizzie Caperon, Alison Strang, Ibrahim Bou-Orm, Sophie Witter, Alastair Ager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) disproportionately affect people living in fragile contexts marked by poor governance and health systems struggling to deliver quality services for the benefit of all. This combination can lead to the erosion of trust in the health system, affecting health-seeking behaviours and the ability of individuals to sustain their health. In this cross-country multiple-case study, we analyse the role of trust in health-seeking for NCD services in fragile contexts. Our analysis triangulates multiple data sources, including semi-structured interviews (n = 102) and Group Model Building workshops (n = 8) with individuals affected by NCDs and health providers delivering NCD services. Data were collected in Freetown and Makeni (Sierra Leone), Beirut and Beqaa (Lebanon), and Morazán, Chalatenango and Bajo Lempa (El Salvador) between April 2018 and April 2019. We present a conceptual model depicting key dynamics and feedback loops between contextual factors, institutional, interpersonal and social trust and health-seeking pathways. Our findings signal that firstly, the way health services are delivered and experienced shapes institutional trust in health systems, interpersonal trust in health providers and future health-seeking pathways. Secondly, historical narratives about public institutions and state authorities’ responses to contextual fragility drivers impact institutional trust and utilisation of services from public health institutions. Thirdly, social trust mediates health-seeking behaviour through social bonds and links between health systems and individuals affected by NCDs. Given the repeated and sustained utilisation of health services required with these chronic diseases, (re)building and maintaining trust in public health institutions and providers is a crucial task in fragile contexts. This requires interventions at community, district and national levels, with a key focus on promoting links and mutual accountability between health systems and communities affected by NCDs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114473
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2021


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