Impacts of Social Factors and the Health Care Reformation on the Relationships between Physicians and Patients in China

Yushi (Boni) Li


Until recently, China had a free-of-charge health care system in urban areas. Due to a rapid increase in population and economic development, China began health care reformation in the early 1990s. As a result, the relationships between physicians and patients began to change. Recently the relationships have become violent. A number of physicians and hospital staff have been injured, or sometimes even killed by patients and/or their family members. There are many social reasons for such conflicts, such as the level of trust with physicians by the patients and the formation of social stratification and social classes in current China, which did not exist before. This paper analyzes the social factors that impact the relationships between patients and physicians. The analysis emphasizes the limited funds allocated to public health care by the Chinese government and the quality of health services offered by physicians and hospitals. Attention is also given to other social issues, such as the impact of private health care and the difficulties of obtaining medical services by the majority of the Chinese people, after the health care reformation took place.

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