Objective: To explore influential factors contributing to the choice of primary care facilities (PCFs) for the initial treatment among rural and urban residents in Southwestern China.
Methods: A face-to-face survey was conducted on a multistage stratified random sample of 456 rural and 459 urban residents in Sichuan Province from January to August in 2014. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data on residents' characteristics, provider of initial treatment and principal reason for the choice. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to identify factors associated with choosing PCFs for the initial treatment.
Results: The result showed that 65.4% of the rural residents and 50.5% of the urban residents chose PCFs as their initial contact for medical care. Among both rural and urban residents, the principal reason for choosing medical institutions for the initial treatment was convenience (42.3% versus 40.5%, respectively), followed by high quality of medical care (26.5% versus 29.4%, respectively). Compared to rural residents, urban residents were more likely to value trust in doctors and high quality of medical care but were less likely to value the insurance designation status of the facilities. Logistic regression analysis showed that both rural and urban residents were less likely to choose PCFs for the initial treatment if they lived more than 15 minutes (by walk) from the nearest facilities (rural: OR = 0.15, 95%CI = 0.09-0.26; urban: OR = 0.19, 95%CI = 0.10-0.36), had fair (rural: OR = 0.49, 95%CI = 0.26-0.92; urban: OR = 0.31, 95%CI = 0.15-0.64) or poor (rural: OR = 0.14, 95%CI = 0.07-0.30; urban: OR = 0.22, 95%CI = 0.11-0.44) self-reported health status. Among rural residents, attending college or higher education (OR = 0.21, 95%CI = 0.08-0.59), being retired (OR = 0.90, 95%CI = 0.44-1.84) and earning a per capita annual income of household of 10,000-29,999 (OR = 0.24, 95%CI = 0.11-0.52) and 30,000-49,999 (OR = 0.26, 95%CI = 0.07-0.92) were associated with lower rates of seeking care at PCFs.
Conclusion: Efforts should be made to improve the accessibility of PCFs and to upgrade the services capability of PCFs both in rural and urban areas in China. At the same time, resources should be prioritized to residents with poorer self-reported health status, and rural residents who retire or have better education and higher income levels should be taken into account.