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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

International Journal for Equity in Health 1/2018

Equity in patient experiences of primary care in community health centers using primary care assessment tool: a comparison of rural-to-urban migrants and urban locals in Guangdong, China

International Journal for Equity in Health > Ausgabe 1/2018
Chenwen Zhong, Li Kuang, Lina Li, Yuan Liang, Jie Mei, Li Li
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12939-018-0758-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



The equity of rural-to-urban migrants’ health care utilization is already on China’s agenda. The Chinese government has been embarking on efforts to improve the financial and geographical accessibility of health care for migrants by strengthening primary care services and providing universal coverage. Patient experiences are equally vital to migrants’ health care utilization. To our knowledge, no studies have focused on equity in the patient experiences between migrants and locals. Based on a patient survey from Guangdong, China, which has a large number of rural-to-urban migrants, our study assessed the equity in the primary care patient experiences between rural-to-urban migrants and urban locals in the same health insurance context, since different forms of insurance can affect the patient experiences of primary care.


We stratified our samples by different insurance types into three layers. We assessed primary care patient experiences using a validated Chinese version of the Primary Care Assessment Tool (PCAT), including eight primary care attributes. A ‘PCAT total score’ was calculated. Data were collected through face-to-face and one-on-one surveys in 2014. Propensity score matching (PSM) was used for each layer to generate comparable samples between rural-to-urban migrants and urban locals. Based on the matched dataset, a t-test was employed to compare the primary care patient experiences of the two groups.


Using PSM, 220 patients in the rural-to-urban migrants group were matched to 220 patients in the urban locals group. After the matching, the observed confounding variables were balanced, and the PCAT scores were almost equal between the two groups. The only slight differences existed in the Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance layer and in the without basic medical insurance coverage layer.


Equity in the primary care patient experiences between rural-to-urban migrants and urban locals seems to have been achieved to some extent. However, there is room for improvement in the equity of coordination of care and comprehensiveness. Policy makers should consider strengthening these two dimensions by integrating the health care system. More attention should be focused on helping migrants break down language and cultural barriers and improving the patient-physician communication process.
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