Equity in the Distribution of CT and MRI in China

A Panel Analysis

Published In: International Journal for Equity in Health, v. 12, no. 39, June 2013

Posted on RAND.org on June 01, 2013

by Da He, Hao Yu, Yingyao Chen

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INTRODUCTION: China is facing a daunting challenge to health equity in the context of rapid economic development. This study adds to the literature by examining equity in the distribution of high-technology medical equipment, such as CT and MRI, in China. METHODS: A panel analysis was conducted with information about four study sites in 2006 and 2009. The four provincial-level study sites included Shanghai, Zhejiang, Shaanxi, and Hunan, representing different geographical, economic, and medical technology levels in China. A random sample of 71 hospitals was selected from the four sites. Data were collected through questionnaire surveys. Equity status was assessed in terms of CT and MRI numbers, characteristics of machine, and financing sources. The assessment was conducted at multiple levels, including international, provincial, city, and hospital level. In addition to comparison among the study sites, the sample was compared with OECD countries in CT and MRI distributions. RESULTS: China had lower numbers of CTs and MRIs per million population in 2009 than most of the selected OECD countries while the increases in its CT and MRI numbers from 2006 to 2009 were higher than most of the OECD countries. The equity status of CT distribution remained at low inequality level in both 2006 and 2009 while the equity status of MRI distribution improved from high inequality in 2006 to moderate inequality in 2009. Despite the equity improvement, the distributions of CTs and MRIs were significantly positively correlated with economic development level across all cities in the four study sites in either 2006 or 2009. Our analysis also revealed that Shanghai, the study site with the highest level of economic development, had more advanced CT and MRI machine, more imported CTs and MRIs, and higher government subsidies on these two types of equipment. CONCLUSIONS: The number of CTs and MRIs increased considerably in China from 2006 to 2009. The equity status of CTs was better than that of MRIs although the equity status in MRI distribution got improved from 2006 to 2009. Still considerable inequality exists in terms of characteristics and financing of CTs and MRIs.

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