A qualitative study of the relationship between perceived overtreatment
risk and seeking medical services through guanxi
Objective: Perceiving overtreatment risk and seeking medical
services through guanxi are prevalent and closely related in China, but
research has failed to explore the combination of the two. This study
analyses the interaction rule and response patterns between perceiving
overtreatment risk and guanxi among public hospital inpatients in China.
Methods: Fifteen inpatients from different clinical departments
were recruited for semi-structured interviews at a public county
hospital in Province A in China from July to October 2021. Qualitative
research methods were used to collate and analyze the data.
Results: According to the data analysis, four themes emerged:
(1) reasons for reasons for seeking medical services through guanxi, (2)
classification of perception of overtreatment risk, (3) the interaction
between guanxi and perception of overtreatment risk, and (4) suggested
solutions. Guanxi is becoming a collective unconscious act for patients.
Age, income, literacy and health insurance policies affect patients’
perceptions of overtreatment risk. In health care, guanxi and perceiving
overtreatment risk interact with each other as causes and effects.
Conclusion: This study analyzes the dialectical relationship
between medical risk perception and relationship with doctors, aiming to
provide a new paradigm for the study of doctor-patient relationship, to
improve the quality of patient-centered healthcare services, and to
provide a framework and ideas for health policy makers and managers to
improve the design of doctor-patient relationship management system.
Moreover, the lack of intervention by health managers between patients’
medical risk perception and relationship to medical care is not
conducive to the establishment of a harmonious doctor-patient
relationship and a good medical environment in the long run. Therefore,
health administrators should do a good job of publicizing science,
calling on patients to correctly view the relationship between patients
and doctors, and strengthening the joint decision-making and trust
between doctors and patients.