The development of urban community health centres for strengthening primary care in China: a systematic literature review

Br Med Bull. 2015;116:139-53. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldv043. Epub 2015 Nov 17.


Introduction: This review outlines the development of China's primary care system, with implications for improving equitable health care.

Sources of data: Government documents, official statistics, and recent literature identified through systematic searches performed on NCBI PubMed.

Areas of agreement: Community health centres (CHCs) are being developed as the major primary care provider in urban China, with laudable achievements. The road towards a strong primary care-led system is promising but challenging.

Areas of controversy: The effectiveness in improving equitable care through the expansion of primary care workforce and redesign of the social medical insurance system warrants further exploration.

Growing points: Healthcare disparities exist in the health system wherein universal health coverage and gatekeepers have not yet been established.

Areas timely for developing research: Future prospective studies should aim to provide solutions for strengthening the leading role of CHCs in providing equitable care in response to population ageing and multimorbidity challenges.

Keywords: community health centres; equitable care; multimorbidity; organizational models; patients' experiences; primary care; service provision.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Community Health Centers / organization & administration*
  • Community Health Centers / trends
  • Health Policy / trends
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / trends
  • Urban Health Services / organization & administration
  • Urban Health Services / trends
  • Workforce