Russian Medical Care in the 1990s: A User's Perspective

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Julie V Brown, Associate Professor and Head (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: This article examines medical utilization patterns and attitudes toward the medical care system among the citizens of Russia's second largest city, St. Petersburg. It focuses upon the extent to which both attitudes towards and usage of medical care institutions have changed in the immediate post-Soviet period. A particular concern has been to determine the degree to which utilization and perceptions vary across the socioeconomic status hierarchy. The data were collected in two stages: a mass survey (N = 1500) conducted in mid 1992 and intensive follow-up interviews (N = 44) conducted in late 1994. The findings indicate that urban Russians were very critical of their medical care system at the end of the Soviet period. Most feel that the system has deteriorated even further since the end of 1991, and they are particularly worried about the emergency care system and about hospital conditions. Although people believe that the system now includes more alternatives, very few have changed their medical utilization patterns to take advantage of these new possibilities. This is more a product of their perceived high cost than of principled opposition to "pay" medicine. The analysis also demonstrates the extent to which medical utilization differs by socioeconomic status. Lower status individuals tend to utilize the formal medical care system. High status individuals seek help from a variety of sources and, in particular, rely much more heavily on informal connections to the medical care system. The medical help-seeking strategies of higher status groups have proven to be reasonably adaptable to the post- Soviet medical marketplace, while for others finding good quality medical care remains more problematic.

Additional Information

Social Science and Medicine 45(8): 1265-1276. DOI:10.1016/S0277-9536(97)00054-3
Language: English
Date: 1997
Russian medical care, medical utilization, health attitudes, socioeconomic status

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