The Changing Image of Physician in Taiwan

  •  Y. M. Chang    
  •  Henry Bair    
  •  Jar-Yuan Pai    


Traditionally, physicians in Taiwan have held a positive image and have possessed high socio-economic standing. However, public attitudes to doctors have changed in recent times. The professional image of physicians has been overshadowed by a series of scandals of malpractice and fraud. The doctor’s white coat, which symbolized humanism and professionalism, has seemingly been tainted; as have the well-respected life-saving professional image of physicians. The aim of this study was to understand the change of the professional image of physicians over time in Taiwan and to see whether it has been affected by the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) program. Competence, autonomy, dominance, authority, altruism, de-professionalization, corporatization and commercialization were factors considered in the analysis of the professional image of physicians. Through the examination of newspapers and academic journals, content analysis technique was then deployed to assess the change in physicians’ professional image over time, as well as before and after the inception of the NHI program. Altruism, authority and competence, which form the traditional definition for medical professionalism, are identified as the top four factors in the Taiwan Medical Journal. However, in the newspapers, the numbers for these factors have decreased except those for corporatization; in the Taiwan Medical Journal, the numbers for competence, dominance and authority have dropped; and numbers for autonomy, altruism, corporatization and commercialization have increased, with those for de-professionalization remaining the same. Although the socioeconomic status of physicians is still lofty after the social changes, the income of physicians have dropped in Taiwan.

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