The ecology of health care in Hong Kong
To better understand the distribution of resources and health care consumption patterns in different geo-ethnic and socio-economic settings, we sought to describe the patterns of illness, care-seeking behavior and health services utilization in Hong Kong compared to the US and UK. Data were derived from the 2002 Hong Kong Thematic Household Survey covering 31,762 non-institutional and institutional residents, representing 6,504,255 persons after applying population weights. Of 1000 individuals during a 1-month period, 567 reported symptoms, 512 of whom considered seeking health care. Four hundred and forty persons visited western allopathic medical practitioners, with 372 (84.5%) in primary care and 68 (15.5%) in specialty care. There were 54 visits to traditional Chinese medical practitioners and 16 emergency room episodes. Seven individuals were hospitalized in community hospitals and on average one in 1000 were admitted to a tertiary medical center. Ninety out of the 567 who experienced symptoms undertook self-management strategies, which included over-the-counter western allopathic medications (n=54) or traditional Chinese remedies (n=14) or both (n=2), dietary modification (n=1) and rest (n=15). We have mapped the ecology of health care in Hong Kong. Monthly prevalence estimates were remarkably similar to US figures for hospital-based events, whereas there was evidence of apparent, substantial "over-consumption" of ambulatory, community-based care. Our results also indicate that the local community's care-seeking orientation still very much favors western allopathic medicine over traditional Chinese therapy, at least for acute illness episodes.
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Volume (Year): 61 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
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