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Investigation of socioeconomic characteristics of chronic diseases in low-income groups in Jiangsu Province, China

Date: Poster sessions
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Zhang Hong, Student, Southeast University, People's Republic of China
with Chang-Kai Zhang, Zhang Kai-Jin, Zhang Xiao, Wang Ke, Tang Bo-Cai, Qin Ma-Lan, Jiang Ming-Xia, Chen Han

Abstract

The objective of this study was to improve the equity of health and medical services in China, understand the socioeconomic characteristics of chronic diseases among urban low-income groups, and provide an evidence base for formulating more equitable health policy.

Random selection was made of 336 people from low-income groups from four cities (Nanjing, Wuxi, Xuzhou and Yancheng) in Jiangsu Province. An enumeration method was applied and the survey samples were stratified according to administrative region. All informants were investigated by self-administrated questionnaires, and the survey was followed up with quality control steps.

Those surveyed ranged from 19 to 87 years of age, among whom 170 were male and 166 were female. Their average age was 46.7 (±9.9) years. Of informants, 87.7% were unemployed; about 50% did not have any medical insurance; the average annual individual income of was 1988 Yuan (US$ 264); and average annual individual medical expenses were 1933 Yuan (US$ 257). The primary cause of their difficulties was identified as low income (66.6%). Other causes were as follows: lost employment (62.7%), fallen sick (57.9%) and disabled (26.6%). The prevalence of chronic diseases among informants was as follows: 38.4% of informants had at least one kind of chronic disease; 20.2% had only one kind of chronic disease; 10.1% had two kinds of chronic disease; and 8.1 % had three or more kinds of chronic disease. When informants fell ill: 55.4% of informants were afraid of not having enough money to see a doctor; 51.5% only see a doctor if the illness is very serious; and 31.8% buy drugs from retail pharmacies themselves to treat serious illness. Of all informants, 81.0% were satisfied with local chronic disease prevention and control, but 14.4% were not satisfied.

The key to improving equity of health and medical services is to provide diversified forms of medical security and more employment opportunities to low-income groups. At the same time health education and health knowledge dissemination needs to be enhanced to improve understanding of health control and prevention. These are important factors in ensuring equity in health and medical services.