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The ethics and politics of patient‐physician mistrust in contemporary China

Developing World Bioethics

Published online on


Focusing on the shared sense of victimization and disadvantage‐ness by both patients and doctors/medical workers in cases of medical conflicts, this paper aims to examine the current patient‐doctor tensions in the larger context of moral transformation in Chinese society since the 1980s. Although the decline of public trust in certain aspects is closely associated with the impact of commodification and commercialization of medical sector during the past two decades, other factors play important role as well. In the case of patient‐doctor tension, mutual disrespect and mistrust also result from the ongoing process of individualization and the remaking of moral self, in which the individual demand for respect, dignity, and trust seem to have unexpectedly and ironically contributed to the rise of tensions and conflicts between patients and doctors as well as other medical workers.