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Impact of adverse media reporting on public perceptions of the doctor-patient relationship in China: an analysis with propensity score matching method

18 Aug 2018


Numerous studies indicate that the doctor–patient relationship in China is facing serious challenges. This study examined the impact of China Central Television’s negative coverage of high medicines prices on both doctors’ and patients’ opinions of the doctor–patient relationship.


Data were collected in a national survey conducted during 19 December 2016 to 11 January 2017 which targeted 136 public tertiary hospitals across the country.


All patients and doctors who submitted completed questionnaire were retrieved from the survey database.


The study used propensity score matching method to match the respondents before and after China Central Television’s news report about high medicines prices which was given at 00:00 hours on 24 December 2016.

Outcome measure

Perception scores were calculated based on the five-point Likert scales to measure the opinions of the doctor–patient relationship.


The perception scores of the doctor–patient relationship were significantly affected by the negative media coverage for hospitalised patients, who scored 1.18 lower on the doctor–patient relationship following the report (p=0.006, 95% CI 0.34 to 2.02), and doctors who scored 5.96 points lower on the same scale (p<0.001, 95% CI 4.11 to 7.82). Score for the ambulatory patients was unaffected by exposure to the adverse news report (p=0.05).


Chinese national media’s reporting of adverse news negatively affected the perceptions of the doctor–patient relationship among both inpatients and doctors. A better understanding of the role of mass media in the formation of opinion and trust between doctors and patients may permit strategies for managing the media, in order to improve public perceptions of the doctor–patient relationship.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open