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Healthcare seeking behaviour among Chinese elderly

Hui Lu (Key Laboratory of Health Technology Assessment (Ministry of Health), Department of Social Medicine, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, China) (Department of Social Medicine and Health Education, School of Public Health, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China)
Wei Wang (Key Laboratory of Health Technology Assessment (Ministry of Health), Department of Social Medicine, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, China)
Ling Xu (Department of Sampling and Survey, Center for Health, Statistics and Information, National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing, China)
Zhenhong Li (Department of Social Medicine, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, China) (Division of Chronic Diseases Prevention and Control, Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control, National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing, China)
Yan Ding (Department of Social Medicine, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, China)
Jian Zhang (Department of Epidemiology, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, USA)
Fei Yan (Key Laboratory of Health Technology Assessment (Ministry of Health), Department of Social Medicine, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, China)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 18 April 2017

540

Abstract

Purpose

The Chinese population is rapidly ageing before they are rich. The purpose of this paper is to describe healthcare seeking behaviour and the critical factors associated with healthcare seeking behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a purposive sampling method, the authors recruited 44 adults aged 60 years or older from three provinces, representing the developed (Shanghai), undeveloped (Ningxia) regions and the regions in between (Hubei). From July to September 2008, using a semi-structured guide, the authors interviewed participants in focus group discussions.

Findings

The healthcare needs for chronic and catastrophic diseases were high; however, the healthcare demands were low and healthcare utilizations were even lower owing to the limited accessibility to healthcare services, particularly, in underdeveloped rural areas. “Too expensive to see a doctor” was a prime complaint, explaining substantial discrepancies between healthcare needs, demands and use. Care seeking behaviour varied depending on insurance availability, perceived performance, particularly hospital services, and prescription medications. Participants consistently rated increasing healthcare accessibility as a high priority, including offering financial aid, and improving service convenience. Improving social security fairness was the first on the elderly’s wish list.

Originality/value

Healthcare demand and use were lower than needs, and were influenced by multiple factors, primarily, service affordability and efficiency, perceived performance and hospital service quality.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: The project was supported by the Fourth Round of Shanghai Three-year Action Plan on Public Health Discipline and Talent Program, Evidence-based Public Health and Health Economics Grant No. 15GWZK0901, and National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant No. 71503138.

The authors would like to thank all those who participated in the study, i.e. interviewees and local health officials in the three provinces and six districts/counties: Shanghai (Zhabei district and Songjiang district), Hubei province (Yingling district and Xiling district) and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (Yinchuan city and Zhongning county) for their efforts and responses. The authors gratefully acknowledge Rae Tang, a graduate student at Cambridge University, UK and Yijie Zhang, a student in Georgia Technology Institute, Georgia, USA for their editorial assistance.

Citation

Lu, H., Wang, W., Xu, L., Li, Z., Ding, Y., Zhang, J. and Yan, F. (2017), "Healthcare seeking behaviour among Chinese elderly", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 248-259. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHCQA-10-2015-0132

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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