• literature review;
  • consumerism;
  • concept analysis;
  • consumers;
  • health visiting;
  • child health clinics

What is consumerism and has it had an impact on health visiting provision? A literature review

Aims. This paper analyses the concept of consumerism drawing on methods of concept analysis. It attempts to identify who the actual consumers of health visiting are before examining whether consumerism and the consumer’s voice has had an impact on health visiting provision.

Background. Patients and clients are increasingly being referred to as consumers, but the term seems to be used simply as substitute for patient, client or service user. Consumerism is a complex concept and the extent of its usage in the context of health visiting has not been fully explored.

Method. An integrative review of a range of literature relating to consumerism is presented. A focused analysis of consumer views of child health clinics is used to illustrate the concept of consumerism. Elements of concept analysis methods such as formulating a model case and a definition are used to illustrate the concept further.

Results. The review suggests that consumerism is an outdated concept and has been replaced by other less emotive terms such as partnership and participation. The apparent lack of impact of consumerism research in health visiting is argued by examining empirical evidence relating to child health clinics.

Conclusions. Consumerism has had relatively little impact on improving child health clinics although high levels of consumer satisfaction with the overall service exist. More methodologically sound studies are needed to explore users’ views of health visiting services and to implement findings to maintain or improve services.