Open Access Research article

Comparison of perceived quality amongst migrant and local patients using primary health care delivered by community health centres in Shenzhen, China

Haitao Li1, Roger Yat-Nork Chung1, Xiaolin Wei1*, Jin Mou2, Samuel Yeung-Shan Wong1, Martin Chi-Sang Wong1, Dan Zhang3, Yingji Zhang3 and Sian Griffiths1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China

2 Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

3 Commission of Health, Population and Family Planning, Shenzhen, China

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:76  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-76

Published: 29 April 2014



Providing good quality primary health care to all inhabitants is one of the Chinese Government’s health care objectives. However, information is scarce regarding the difference in quality of primary health care delivered to migrants and local residents respectively. This study aimed to compare patients’ perceptions of quality of primary health care between migrants and local patients, and their willingness to use and recommend primary health care to others.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted. 787 patients in total were chosen from four randomly drawn Community Health Centers (CHCs) for interviews.


Local residents scored higher than migrants in terms of their satisfaction with types of drugs available (3.62 vs. 3.45, p = 0.035), attitude of health workers (4.41 vs. 4.14, p = 0.042) and waiting time (4.30 vs. 3.86, p < 0.001). Even though there was no significant difference in overall satisfaction between local residents and migrants (4.16 vs. 3.91, p = 0.159), migrants were more likely to utilize primary health care as the first choice for their usual health problems (94.1% vs. 87.1%, p = 0.032), while local residents were more inclined to recommend Traditional Chinese Medicine to others (65.6% vs. 56.6%, p = 0.026).


Quality of primary health care given to migrants is less satisfactory than to local residents in terms of attitude of health workers and waiting time. Our study suggests quality of care could be improved through extending opening hours of CHCs and strengthening professional ethics education. Considering CHCs as the first choice by migrants might be due to their health insurance scheme, while locals’ recommendations for traditional Chinese medicine were possibly because of cultural differences.

Patient satisfaction; Quality of care; Primary health care; Migration