Barriers to Adolescent Health Care in Maternal and Children's Healthcare Hospitals: Based on a National Survey in China

Xiaomin Luo, Ruimin Zheng, Xi Jin, Ying Sun, Li Chen, Jiong Peng, Xiaona Huang, Xiaobo Tian, Lili Mei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Adolescence is a critical period for physical and psychological development; therefore, health interventions at this phase may be especially beneficial. In this study, we aim to describe the distribution of the adolescent health care system in China and to compare the perceived barriers of running an adolescent clinic (AC) proposed by hospitals with corresponding government entities.

METHODS: A nationwide online survey was launched by the National Health Commission of China in December 2015, among 116 Maternal and Children's Healthcare (MCH) hospitals located across 24 randomized selected provinces. The online survey included management questionnaires filled out by health administrators from local health commissions and service questionnaires filled out by adolescent care providers from MCH hospitals.

RESULTS: Among the surveyed provinces, only 7% have special funding for adolescent health care, 13% have a supporting policy, 8% have guidelines/service standards, and 16% provide adolescent health care based in MCH hospitals. Among the 116 MCH hospitals investigated, 31 (27%) had a functioning AC and 15 (13%) used to have an AC. Compared with the MCH hospitals that never have an AC, those that previously had an AC were more likely to perceive demand as a barrier (odds ratio = 8.02; p value < .05) but less likely to perceive guidelines/service standards as a problem (odds ratio = .09; p value < .01). The perceptions of health administrators and adolescent health care providers differed markedly on demand and profits: both were ranked highly by supply side (health providers) but ranked low by the health administrators.

CONCLUSIONS: This national survey, for the first time, presents a whole picture of adolescent health care in MCH hospital settings in China. Among the surveyed MCH hospitals, major areas of discordance between administrators and health care providers were barriers in demand and profits, which health administrators tend to overlook. A number of strategic priorities are proposed to best guide the development of the adolescent health care system in China, including improved linkage between health and education and community systems, comprehensive approaches move beyond sexual and reproductive education, as well as the workforce development and capacity-building.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S32-S37
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number5S
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health
  • Adolescent Health Services/statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • China
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility/statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy


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