Comparing quality of public primary care between Hong Kong and Shanghai using validated patient assessment tools.
ABSTRACT: Primary care is the key element of health reform in China. The objective of this study was to compare patient assessed quality of public primary care between Hong Kong, a city with established primary care environment influenced by its colonial history, and Shanghai, a city leading primary care reform in Mainland China; and to measure the equity of care in the two cities.Cross sectional stratified random sampling surveys were conducted in 2011. Data were collected from 1,994 respondents in Hong Kong and 811 respondents in Shanghai. A validated Chinese version of the primary care assessment tool was employed to assess perceived quality of primary care with respect to socioeconomic characteristics and health status.We analyzed 391 and 725 respondents in Hong Kong and Shanghai, respectively, who were regular public primary care users. Respondents in Hong Kong reported significant lower scores in first contact accessibility (1.59 vs. 2.15), continuity of care (2.33 vs. 3.10), coordination of information (2.84 vs. 3.64), comprehensiveness service availability (2.43 vs. 3.31), comprehensiveness service provided (2.11 vs. 2.40), and the total score (23.40 vs. 27.40), but higher scores in first contact utilization (3.15 vs. 2.54) and coordination of services (2.67 vs. 2.40) when compared with those in Shanghai. Respondents with higher income reported a significantly higher total primary care score in Hong Kong, but not in Shanghai.Respondents in Shanghai reported better quality of public primary care than those in Hong Kong, while quality of public primary care tended to be more equitable in Shanghai.
Project description:Ownership of primary care providers varies in different cities in China. Shanghai represented the full public ownership model of primary providers; Shenzhen had public-owned but private-operated providers; and Hong Kong represented the full private ownership. The study aims to assess the association of primary care ownership and patient perceived quality of care in 3 Chinese megacities.We conducted multistage stratified random surveys in 2013 in the 3 cities. Quality scores of primary care were measured using the validated primary care assessment tools. Multivariate linear regression models were used to compare quality scores after controlling potential confounders of patient demographic, socioeconomic, and healthcare utilization factors.Overall, 797 primary care users in Shanghai, 802 in Shenzhen, and 1325 in Hong Kong participated in the study. The mean total quality scores were reported the highest in Shanghai (28.39), followed by Shenzhen (25.82) and then Hong Kong (25.21) (P?<?0.001). Shanghai participants reported the highest scores for 1st contact accessibility, coordination of information, comprehensiveness of service availability, and culture competence, while Hong Kong participants reported the lowest for these domains (P?<?0.001). Hong Kong participants from rich households reported higher total scores than those from poor households (P?<?0.05); however, this was not found in Shanghai and Shenzhen.The study suggests that private primary care ownership may be associated with lower quality and less equitable care distribution. In China, it suggests that it may be beneficial to promote public-owned and nonprofit providers. Promoting privatization in primary care may be at the cost of quality and equity of primary care.
Project description:BACKGROUND: As part of its ongoing healthcare reform, the Hong Kong Government introduced a voucher scheme, intended for encouraging older patients to use primary healthcare services in the private sector, thereby, reducing burden on the overwhelmed public sector. The voucher program is also considered one of the strategies to further develop the public private partnership in healthcare, a policy direction of high political priority as indicated in the Chief Executive Policy Address in 2008-09. This study assessed whether the voucher scheme, as implemented so far, has reached its intended goals, and how it might be further improved in the context of public-private partnership. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study using structured questionnaires by face-to-face interviews with older people aged 70 or above in Hong Kong, the target group of the demand-side voucher program. RESULTS: 71.2% of 1,026 older people were aware of the new voucher scheme but only 35.0% had ever used it. The majority of the older people used the vouchers for acute curative services in the private sector (82.4%) and spent less on preventive services. Despite the provision of vouchers valued US$30 per year as an incentive to encourage the use of private primary care services, after 12-months of implementation, 66.2% of all respondents agreed with the statement that "the voucher scheme does not change their health seeking behaviours on seeing public or private healthcare professionals". The most common reasons for no change in their behaviours included "I am used to seeing doctors in the public system" and "The amount of the subsidy is too low". Those who usually used a mix of public and private doctors and those with better self-reported health condition compared to last year were more likely to perceive a change in their own health seeking behaviours. CONCLUSIONS: Our study showed that despite a reasonably high awareness of the voucher scheme, its usage was low. The voucher alone was not enough to realize the government's policy of greater use of the private primary care services. Greater publicity and more variety of media promotion would increase awareness but the effectiveness of vouchers in changing older people's behaviour needs to be revisited. Designating vouchers for use of preventive services with evidence-based practice could be considered. In addition to the demand-side subsidies, improving transparency and comparability of private services against the public sector might be necessary.
Project description:STUDY OBJECTIVES:To compare the secular trends of sleep/wake patterns in school-aged children in Hong Kong and Shanghai, two major metropolitan cities in China with two different policies that school start time was delayed in Shanghai, but advanced in Hong Kong in 10 years' time. METHODS:Participants were from two waves of cross-sectional school-based surveys of children aged 6 to 11 years. In Shanghai, 4,339 and 13,795 children participated in the 2005 and 2014 surveys, respectively. In Hong Kong, 6,231 and 4,585 children participated in the 2003 and 2012 surveys, respectively. Parents reported their children's bedtime and wakeup time, and thus sleep duration, short sleep (? 9 hours) and weekend oversleep (difference in sleep duration between weekday and weekend > 2 hours) were determined. RESULTS:Hong Kong children had later bedtime and wakeup time and slept consistently less than their Shanghai counterparts at both survey time points. The shorter sleep duration was particularly marked during weekdays. Over the interval period, weekday sleep duration significantly decreased from 9.2 to 8.9 hours as wakeup time became earlier for Hong Kong children, but increased from 9.4 to 9.6 hours as wakeup time became later for children in Shanghai. Children from both cities slept longer on the weekends. Prevalence of weekend oversleep significantly increased in Hong Kong children, but no interval change was found in Shanghai children. CONCLUSIONS:The findings indicate subcultural differences in sleep/wake patterns in Shanghai and Hong Kong school-aged children. In particular, sleep duration had increased for Shanghai children, but decreased for Hong Kong children over 10 years. The benefits and barriers of delaying school start time for optimizing sleep health in school-aged children should be further explored.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Among Western countries, it has been found that physicians tend to manage their own illnesses and tend not have their own independent family physicians. This is recognized as a significant issue for both physicians and, by extension, the patients under their care, resulting in initiatives seeking to address this. Physicians' personal health care practices in Asia have yet to be documented. METHODS: An anonymous cross-sectional postal questionnaire survey was conducted in Hong Kong, China. All 9570 medical practitioners in Hong Kong registered with the Hong Kong Medical Council in 2003 were surveyed. Chi-square tests and logistic regression models were applied. RESULTS: There were 4198 respondents to the survey; a response rate of 44%. Two-thirds of respondents took care of themselves when they were last ill, with 62% of these self-medicating with prescription medication. Physicians who were graduates of Hong Kong medical schools, those working in general practice and non-members of the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians were more likely to do so. Physician specialty was found to be the most influential reason in the choice of caregiver by those who had ever consulted another medical practitioner. Only 14% chose consultation with a FM/GP with younger physicians and non-Hong Kong medical graduates having a higher likelihood of doing so. Seventy percent of all respondents believed that having their own personal physician was unnecessary. CONCLUSION: Similar to the practice of colleagues in other countries, a large proportion of Hong Kong physicians self-manage their illnesses, take self-obtained prescription drugs and believe they do not need a personal physician. Future strategies to benefit the medical care of Hong Kong physicians will have to take these practices and beliefs into consideration.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Primary care based management of long-term conditions (LTCs) is high on the international healthcare agenda, including the Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong has a 'mixed economy' healthcare system with both public and private sectors with a range of types of primary care doctors. Recent Hong Kong Government policy aims to enhance the management of LTCs in primary care possibly based on a 'family doctor' model. Patients' views on this are not well documented and the aim of the present study was to explore the views of patients with LTCs on family doctors in Hong Kong. METHODS: The views of patients (with a variety of LTCs) on family doctors in Hong Kong were explored. Two groups of participants were interviewed; a) those who considered themselves as having a family doctor, b) those who considered themselves as not having a family doctor (either with a regular primary care doctor but not a family doctor or with no regular primary care doctor). In-depth individual semi-structured interviews were carried out with 28 participants (10 with a family doctor, 10 with a regular doctor, and 8 with no regular doctor) and analysed using the constant comparative method. RESULTS: Participants who did not have a family doctor were familiar with the concept but regarded it as a 'luxury item' for the rich within the private healthcare system. Those with a regular family doctor (all private) regarded having one as important to their and their family's health. Participants in both groups felt that as well as the more usual family medicine specialist or general practitioner, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners also had the potential to be family doctors. However most participants attended the public healthcare system for management of their LTCs whether they had a family doctor or not. Cost, perceived need, quality, trust, and choice were all barriers to the use of family doctors for the management of their LTCs. CONCLUSIONS: Important barriers to the adoption of a 'family doctor' model of management of LTCs exist in Hong Kong. Effective policy implementation seems unlikely unless these complex barriers are addressed.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Vouchers are increasingly used as a demand-side subsidy to reduce financial hardship and improve quality of services. Elderly Healthcare Voucher Scheme has been introduced by the Hong Kong Government since 2009 to provide subsidy to elderly aged 65 and above to visit ten different types of private primary care providers for curative, preventive and chronic disease management. Several enhancements have been made over the past few years. This paper (as part of an evaluation study of this unique healthcare voucher scheme) aims to assess the long term impact of the voucher scheme in encouraging the use of primary care services. METHODS:Two rounds of cross-sectional survey among elderly in Hong Kong were conducted in 2010 and 2016. Propensity score matching and analysis were used to compare changes in perception and usage of vouchers over time. RESULTS:61.5% of respondents in 2016 agreed "the scheme encourages me to use more private primary care services", a significant increase from 36.2% in 2010. Among those who agreed in 2016, the majority thought the voucher scheme would encourage them to use acute services (90.3%) in the private sector, rather than preventive care (40.3%) and chronic disease management (12.2%). Respondents also reported that their current usual choice of care was visiting "both public and private doctors" (61.9%), representing a significant increase (up from 48.4%) prior to their use of voucher. CONCLUSIONS:The voucher scheme has encouraged the use of more private care services, particularly acute services rather than disease prevention or management of chronic disease. However, there needs to be caution that the untargeted and open-ended nature of voucher scheme could result in supply-induced demand which would affect long term financial sustainability. The dual utilization of health services in both the public and private sector may also compromise continuity and quality of care. The design of the voucher needs to be more specific, targeting prevention and chronic disease management rather than unspecified care which is mainly acute and episodic in order to maximize service delivery capacity as a whole for equitable access in universal health coverage and to contribute to a sustainable financing system.
Project description:Primary care in the United States and most countries in Asia are provided by a variety of doctors. However, effectiveness of such diversified primary care in gate-keeping secondary medical services is unknown. This study aimed to evaluate health services utilization rates of hospital emergency and admission services among people who used different primary care doctors in Hong Kong.This study was a population-based cross-sectional telephone survey using structured questionnaire on health services utilization rates and pattern in Hong Kong in 2007 to 2008. Information on the choice of primary care doctors, utilization rates and patterns of primary care service were collected. Poisson and logistic regression analyses were used to explore any differences in service utilization rates and patterns among people using different types of primary care doctors.Out of 3148 subjects who completed the survey, 1896 (60.2%) had regular primary care doctors, of whom 1150 (60.7%) regarded their regular doctors as their family doctors (RFD). 1157 (36.8%) of them did not use any regular doctors (NRD). Only 4.3% of the RFD group (vs 7.8% of other regular doctors (ORD) and 9.6% of NRD) visited emergency service and only 1.7% (vs 3.6% of ORD and 4.0% of NRD) were admitted to hospital for their last episode of illness. Regression analyses controlling for sociodemographics and health status confirmed that respondents having RFD were less likely to use emergency service than people who had NRD (OR 0.479) or ORD (OR 0.624) or being admitted to hospital (OR 0.458 vs NRD and 0.514 vs ORD) for their last episode of illness.Primary care is the most effective in gate-keeping secondary care among people with regular family doctors. People without any regular primary care doctor were more likely to use emergency service as primary care. The findings supported a family doctor-led primary care model.ClinicalTrials.gov ID: NCT01422031.
Project description:The aim of our study was to identify the incidence rate of and the risk factors for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among Chinese older adults with multimorbidity in primary care in Hong Kong. Older adults aged 60 years and above with multimorbidity were recruited from the public primary care clinics in Hong Kong. Incidence rates were calculated with the person-years. Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to predict the risk factors for MCI. Sensitivity analysis was performed using multiple imputation. Among 462 participants included in the main analysis, 45 progressed from normal to MCI with an incidence rate of 80.9 cases per 1000 person-years. Older age (HR 2.82, 95% CI 1.26-6.28) and being single (HR 2.15, 95% CI 1.11-4.19) were risk factors for developing MCI in the multivariable regression model. A total of 660 participants were included in the sensitivity analysis, with an MCI incidence of 114.4 cases per 1000 person-years. Older age and being single remained to be risk factors for MCI among older adults with multimorbidity. There may be a high incidence of MCI among Chinese older adults with multimorbidity in primary care in Hong Kong. Future larger studies need to confirm the prevalence and incidence of MCI among primary care Chinese patients.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Waterpipe smoking has gained global popularity in recent years, especially among young people. However, there is a lack of empirical investigation into waterpipe smoking in East Asia. This study aimed to investigate the demographical and psycho-social characteristics and patterns of waterpipe smoking (WPS) among university students in Hong Kong. METHODS:A cross-sectional survey was conducted via online questionnaires administered to 1288 Hong Kong university students (mean age: 22.4 [SD?=?3.8]). Logistic regressions were used to compute adjusted odd ratios (aOR) for waterpipe ever-smoking in relation to respondents' characteristics. Moreover, multinomial logistic regression yielded adjusted RR (aRR) for four different smoking status (i.e., never, waterpipe-only, cigarette-only, and dual smoking) regarding the characteristics. RESULTS:23.8% of participants reported having ever smoked a waterpipe (vs. cigarette ever-smoking: 21.1%). Factors including being female (aOR:1.57; 95% CI: 1.22-2.02), older age (?24?years: 4.17; 1.35-12.93), frequent alcohol consumption (>monthly: 26.02; 10.91-62.09), and higher sensation-seeking behaviours (high level: 2.98;1.46-6.08) were associated with waterpipe ever-smokers. The study also identified that demographical and psycho-social characteristics were variably associated with students' smoking status. Particularly, more frequent alcohol consumption was most significantly associated with waterpipe-only smoking (aRR:45.73; 95% CI:11.44-182.73) (vs. cigarette-only smoking: 3.01; 1.76-5.14). CONCLUSIONS:WPS is the most common form of tobacco smoking among university students in Hong Kong, and characteristics unique to the population were identified. There is no legislation of relevant policies on WPS despite its concerning significance in public health among young people, therefore immediate action to monitor and control WPS is needed in Hong Kong.
Project description:Public health strategies to curb the spread of the coronavirus involve sheltering at home and social distancing are effective in reducing the transmission rate, but the unintended consequences of prolonged social isolation on mental health have not been investigated. We focused on Hong Kong for its very rapid and comprehensive response to the pandemic and strictly enacted social distancing protocols. Thus, Hong Kong is a model case for the population-wide practice of effective social distancing and provides an opportunity to examine the impact of loneliness on mental health during the COVID-19. We conducted an anonymous online survey of 432 residents in Hong Kong to examine psychological distress in the community. The results indicate a dire situation with respect to mental health. An astonishing 65.6% (95% C.I. = [60.6%, 70.4%]) of the respondents reported clinical levels of depression, anxiety, and/or stress. Moreover, 22.5% (95% C.I. = [18.2%, 27.2%]) of the respondents were showing signs of psychosis risk. Subjective feelings of loneliness, but not social network size, were associated with increased psychiatric symptoms. To mitigate the potential epidemic of mental illness in the near future, there is an urgent need to prepare clinicians, caregivers and stakeholders to focus on loneliness.