General practitioners versus other physicians in the quality of primary care: a cross-sectional study in Guangdong Province, China

Yaming Zou, Xiao Zhang, Yuantao Hao, Leiyu Shi, Ruwei Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The primary care in China can be provided by general practitioners (GPs) and other physicians (non-GPs). However, China's general practice system has never been really established. Chinese patients tend to consider the quality of primary care provided by GPs much lower than that of non-GPs. Besides, many GPs presently prefer leaving their own positions and seeking better development in big hospitals, which has made the already weak GP system weaker. Yet, few studies have specially compared the quality of primary care provided by Chinese GPs and other physicians and no studies have explored the independent predictors of Chinese GPs' intentions to stay on their current job. In this study, we aimed to compare the quality of primary care offered by GPs with non-GPs and to explore the independent predictors of GPs' future work intentions. Methods: This cross-sectional study applied multi-stage random cluster sampling methodology. The data were collected from November 2013 to September 2014 in Guangdong Province. In total, 401 effective questionnaires were selected from the physicians. Quality of primary care was assessed using the Primary Care Assessment Tool (PCAT) Provider Part, representing six primary care domains: ongoing care, coordination (i.e., referrals and information systems), comprehensiveness (i.e., service available and service provided), family-centeredness, community orientation and cultural competence. Results: Of 401 participating physicians, 163 (40.6 %) were GPs. ± 2.24 which was the sum score of the six domains and represent the quality of primary care. GPs achieved significantly different total scores and scores on three individual scales: comprehensiveness: service available, comprehensiveness: service provided and community orientation. Multiple linear regressions revealed GPs had a higher total score and scores for comprehensiveness: service provided and community orientation after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics. In addition, GPs were more likely to intend to stay in their current job in the coming year, and this was associated with their educational level. Conclusions: Our findings showed that GPs reported higher quality of primary care than other physicians, and were more inclined to stay in their current job. With more comprehensive care and community orientation provided by GPs, residents could reach basic medical cares and needn't to crowd into larger hospitals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number349
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015



  • China
  • General practitioners
  • Primary Care Assessment Tool (PCAT)
  • Quality of primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice

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