The purpose of this study is to provide a critical review and synthesis of theoretical and research literature documenting the impact of avoidance on healthcare behaviors, identify the factors that influence healthcare avoidance and delay in the adult population, and propose a direction for future research. The Theory of Reasoned Action, Theory of Planned Behavior, Theory of Care-Seeking Behavior, the Transtheoretical Model, and the Behavioral Model of Health Services Use/Utilization are utilized to elaborate on the context within which individual intention to engage in healthcare behaviors occurs. Research literature on the concept of healthcare avoidance obtained by using computerized searches of CINAHL, MEDLINE, PSYCH INFO, and HAPI databases, from 1995 to 2007, were reviewed. Studies were organized by professional disciplines. Healthcare avoidance is a common and highly variable experience. Multiple administrative, demographic, personal, and provider factors are related to healthcare avoidance, for example, distrust of providers and/or the science community, health beliefs, insurance status, or socioeconomic/income level. Although the concept is recognized by multiple disciplines, limited research studies address its impact on healthcare decision making. More systematic research is needed to determine correlates of healthcare avoidance. Such studies will help investigators identify patients at risk for avoidant behaviors and provide the basis for health-promoting interventions. Methodological challenges include identification of characteristics of individuals and environments that hinder healthcare behaviors, as well as, the complexity of measuring healthcare avoidance. Studies need to systematically explore the influence of avoidance behaviors on specific healthcare populations at risk.
Cancer Screening Project, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, New Jersey, and College of Nursing & Health Professions, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Corresponding Author: Sharon K. Byrne, MSN, RN, APN, C, AOCNP, Cancer Screening Project, Cooper University Hospital. Three Cooper Plaza Ste 310, Camden, NJ 08066 (email@example.com).