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Schistosomiasis is a chronic and debilitating parasitic disease acquired through contact with infested freshwater. An essential component of its control is passive case finding, which, in order to be effective, requires a detailed understanding of health-seeking behaviour. This study aimed to systematically review evidence on health-seeking behaviour for schistosomiasis, in order to determine factors influencing use or non-use of modern health services for the infection. Quantitative, qualitative and mixed method studies reporting on factors related to seeking treatment from modern health services for schistosomiasis were obtained, combining electronic and hand searching. Data extraction and quality assessment of the included articles were performed, with all studies qualitatively analysed using thematic synthesis. A total of 19 studies were included in the review. Six themes were identified from the analysis: biomedical knowledge on schistosomiasis, perceptions of modern treatment and health services, financial considerations of treatment, perceptions on the symptoms, stigma of the infection, and physical location and community. These findings were consistent across studies of different design, setting and quality. Many of the themes identified echo existing literature on health-seeking behaviour. The synthesis also highlighted the role of stigma, and aspects of the physical location and community that may affect treatment-seeking for schistosomiasis. Health education programmes that intend to improve the utilisation of modern health services for the infection need to acknowledge the multiple determinants influencing their use. Future research should move beyond describing health-seeking behaviour to identifying the factors that underlay such behaviour.

Original publication




Journal article


Pan Afr Med J

Publication Date





Health-seeking behaviour, case finding, cobtrol, community, schistosomiasis, Cost of Illness, Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Health Services Accessibility, Humans, Perception, Schistosomiasis, Social Stigma