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Doctors in Chinese public hospitals: demonstration of their professional identities
journal contributionposted on 06.01.2021, 05:08 by Zhanming Liang, M Xu, G Liu, Y Zhou, Peter Howard
© 2020, The Author(s).
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.