Objective: This study aimed to identify the distribution and equity trends for general practitioners (GPs) in China from 2012 to 2015 and to provide evidence to guide the discipline’s development of general practice and for policy-making.
Methods: On the basis of data from the National Health Statistics yearbooks, the distribution and equity trends for GPs from 2012 to 2015 were analyzed with the Lorenz curve and Gini coefficient as indictors of health equity.
Results: From 2012 to 2015 the number of GPs increased at rates ranging from 9.3% to 32.5%, while the number of registered GPs increased at rates ranging from 32.6% to 37.2%. In 2015 the average number of GPs was 1.38 per 10,000 people (among the 31 provinces the highest rate was 3.90 per 10,000 people in Zhejiang and the lowest rate was 0.50 per 10,000 people in Xizang) and 1.98 per 100 km2 (among 31 provinces the highest rate was 89.23 per 100 km2 in Shanghai and the lowest rate was 0.01 per 100 km2 in Xizang). From 2012 to 2015 the Gini coefficients weighted by population were 0.31, 0.29, 0.26, and 0.25 respectively, while the Gini coefficients weighted by geographical area were 0.74, 0.72, 0.72, and 0.72 respectively.
Conclusion: The number of GPs increased rapidly in China; however, the proportion of registered GPs was unsatisfactory, and there were inequities among the different provinces. The government should launch integrated strategies to encourage GP trainees to become registered GPs and optimize the distribution and equity of GPs.