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01.12.2014 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

BMC Health Services Research 1/2014

Does the perception of fairness and standard of care in the health system depend on the field of study? Results of an empirical analysis

BMC Health Services Research > Ausgabe 1/2014
Kathrin Damm, Anne Prenzler, Andy Zuchandke
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1472-6963-14-166) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Authors’ contributions

KD and AP designed and coordinated the study and drafted the manuscript. KD and AZ performed the statistical analysis. AZ helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



The main challenge in the context of health care reforms and priority setting is the establishment and/or maintenance of fairness and standard of care. For the political process and interdisciplinary discussion, the subjective perception of the health care system might even be as important as potential objective criteria. Of special interest are the perceptions of academic disciplines, whose representatives act as decision makers in the health care sector. The aim of this study is to explore and compare the subjective perception of fairness and standard of care in the German health care system among students of medicine, law, economics, philosophy, and religion.


Between October 2011 and January 2012, we asked freshmen and advanced students of the fields mentioned above to participate in a paper and pencil survey. Prior to this, we formulated hypotheses. The data were analysed by micro econometric regression techniques.


Data from 1,088 students were included in the study. Medical students, freshmen, and advanced students perceive the standard of care significantly as being better than non-medical students. Differences in the perception of fairness are not significant between the freshmen of the academic disciplines; however, they increase with the number of study terms. Besides the field of study, further variables such as gender and health status have a significant impact on perceptions.


Our results show that there are differences in the perception of fairness and standard of care between academic disciplines, which might influence the interdisciplinary discussion on health care reforms and priority setting.
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