Academic journal article Journal of Sociological Research

Rational Choice Theory and the Choice of Healthcare Services in the Treatment of Malaria in Nigeria

Academic journal article Journal of Sociological Research

Rational Choice Theory and the Choice of Healthcare Services in the Treatment of Malaria in Nigeria

Article excerpt


This paper is on the rational choice theory and the choice of healthcare services for the treatment of malaria in Nigeria. It focuses on the factors that influence or determine the choice malaria treatment using the rational choice theory as the basis. It was discovered that there were many determinants of what informs the maximum utility but it is all wrapped up in the organization of the health care system. Hence, in choosing treatment for malaria, factors like; perceived and actual quality of care, proximity of the services, accessibility, cost of treatment, socio-economic status of the patients, availability of services, etc., are important.

These factors in many occasions constitute constraints which in turn makes choices explicit and then patients makes trade-offs between alternatives.


The fundamental unit of social life including group interaction and relationships is the individual human action. The idea of 'rational action' has generally been taken to imply a conscious social actor engaging in measured calculative schemes. It is a notable argument that human behavior is not totally spontaneous and free but determined. Rational choice is about choice based on reason. Scholar like Hechter et al, 2009, believe that any argument that takes actors and their goals as primitives or basis, and then progress towards the explanation of how the given actors' pursuit of the goals leads to systematic trends and tendencies in observed human behavior is regarded as 'rational choice'. A rational choice can be seen as one that is reasoned and also optimal for achieving a goal or solving a problem. In rational choice theories, individuals are seen as motivated by the needs, wants or goals that express their preferences. Rational behavior needs formulation of a problem that is quantifiable and measureable, and also making several strategic assumptions. Rationality factors in how much information is available and all together the formulation and background assumptions are the model within which rationality applies. Assertion of rationality without stipulating the background model assumptions describing how the problem is framed and formulated is meaningless. The rational choice method or model can be used in understanding the health seeking behavior and alternative care practices people engage in. The analysis usually begins with a question; what determines the choice of health care system of the people? Does the people's culture affect their health seeking behavioral pattern? Why would people prefer alternative medical care to the western medical care? etc. The subject matter here has to do with how people make medical choices, an important part of human behavior. How do the people choose which health care system to use, whether western or traditional and even within these sets, what subsets they decide to go for? Is life-style and behavioral risk factors influence by societal factors, or randomly distributed throughout the population without regard to social class? This paper is applied specifically to choice of health care services in the treatment of malaria in Nigeria.

For accurate application, it is important we summarize the assumptions or fundamentals of rational choice theory. Rational Choice Theory generally begins with consideration of the choice behavior of one or more individual decision-making units, which in basic economics are most often consumers and/or firms. The rational choice theorist often presumes that the individual decision-making unit in question is "typical" or "representative" of some larger group such as buyers or sellers in a particular market. Once individual behavior is established, the analysis generally moves on to examine how individual choices interact to produce outcomes. Also, the fundamental premise that the choices made by buyers and sellers (agents) are the choices that best help them achieve their objectives, given all relevant factors that are beyond their control (Obinna, 2010). …

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