Doctors in Chinese public hospitals: demonstration of their professional identities

Liang, Zhanming, Xu, Min, Liu, Guowei, Zhou, Yongli, and Howard, Peter F. (2020) Doctors in Chinese public hospitals: demonstration of their professional identities. BMC Medical Education, 20 (1). 501.

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Background: An increase in the number of medical disputes and violence against doctors indicates a lack of trust in the medical profession by society in Chinese public hospitals. Empirical evidence confirms that one cause is the lack of professional identity demonstrated by doctors. Medical professionals are required to maintain high standards of competence and moral responsibility, and demonstrate qualities such as respect, compassion, integrity, responsiveness to needs, and commitment to sound ethical practice in order to maintain professional privilege. These principles and appropriate professional conduct are the foundation of the professional identity of the medical profession.

Methods: A quantitative approach was adopted by distributing paper-based questionnaires to doctors and patients in two hospitals (Level III and Level II) in Jinan, Shandong province, China.

Findings: In total, 614 doctors and 1184 inpatients on discharge from the surgical and internal medicine units of the two hospitals participated in the survey yielding 90% response rates. The study confirmed the variation amongst doctors in demonstrating their professionalism in terms of respecting patients’ views and preferences when determining diagnostic procedures and treatment plans, and when making ethical decisions. Although 90% patients indicated that they showed respects to doctors, close to 20% of the doctors disagreed that they received high respect from patients. About 12% of doctors prescribed unnecessary diagnostic procedures to patient for the purpose of generating profit and more than 20% of patients indicated that they gave gifts to doctors in order to receive better treatment.

Conclusions: Although about 80% of doctors demonstrated certain aspects of professionalism required by practitioners, the inconsistency across the medical workforce may exacerbate tense doctor-patient relationships. A review of medical curricula and focus of the internship program is required in order to assist medical graduates with forming required professional identity in order to improve patient satisfaction and better clinical outcomes. To be effective, a more systematic approach is recommended.

Item ID: 68162
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-6920
Keywords: Chinese public hospitals, Doctor – patient relationships, Professional identity
Copyright Information: © The Author(s). 2020 Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License,which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Funders: handong Social Science Planning and Management Office
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2021 01:34
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420311 Health systems @ 50%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420319 Primary health care @ 50%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2002 Evaluation of health and support services > 200206 Health system performance (incl. effectiveness of programs) @ 50%
20 HEALTH > 2003 Provision of health and support services > 200304 Inpatient hospital care @ 50%
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