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Tensions between Medical Professionals and Patients in Mainland China


In China, state investment into public hospitals has radically decreased since the early 1980s and has brought on the dismantling of the healthcare system in most parts of the country, especially in rural areas. As a result of this overhaul, the majority of public hospitals have needed to compete in the so-called socialist market economy. The market economy stimulated public hospitals to modernize, take on highly qualified medical professionals, and dispense new therapies and drugs. At same time, liberalization has clearly affected the attitude and behavior of both medical professionals and the general public. The public has many concerns about the healthcare system for various reasons: there are long hospital waiting lists, patients experience difficulties in obtaining an appointment to see a qualified doctor, and, over the past decades, there has been an increase in out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure. These and other changes in post-reform China have radically reshaped the doctor–patient interaction, which is increasingly eroded by tension and violence.

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The project that conducted the National Survey on the Practice and Attitudes of Medical Professionals was financially supported by the Chinese Association of Science and Technology (Project 2007DGY11). The analysis in this article has also benefited from the knowledge gained through a British Academy Visiting Fellowship grant (VF2008/49098) and the project International Science and Bioethics Collaborations, financed by the ESRC (RES-062-23—0215).

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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
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