TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (2): 203-217.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.002937

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A Review on the Health Care Service in Border Regions

WANG Shuai1,CHENG Yang1,YE Binhong2   

  1. (1.Faculty of Geographical Science,Beijing Normal University,Beijing 100875;2.College of Geographical Sciences,Fujian Normal University,Fuzhou 350007)
  • Online:2017-03-05 Published:2017-03-05


Border regions are an important geopolitical area, also a national gateway and an important trade route. After the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative and Healthy China, there is a pressing need to strengthen research on health care services in border regions. In this paper, we systematically reviewed the publications on health care services in border regions from 2000 to 2016 in China and abroad. There were 282 articles in Chinese and 359 in English shown by CNKI and Web of Science, respectively. The Keyword Co-occurrence tool of CiteSpace software was used to visualize the keywords of the articles we searched for so as to show the current research trend more clearly. In terms of study areas, overseas scholars mainly focused on the U.S.-Mexico border, while Chinese scholars focused on the border regions in Yunnan Province. In terms of research subjects, overseas scholars mainly focused on the ethnic minorities and women who lived in the border regions, while Chinese scholars mainly studied the minorities living in Yunnan Province. In terms of contents, overseas scholars mainly focused on two topics: 1) health care services and disease control in border regions, and 2) cross-border health care utilization behavior and cross-border medical tourism. In the first topic, the health conditions of border residents who were suffering from HIV and cancer were discussed, and how community health workers and governments managed to deliver intervention to the border residents were demonstrated. In the second topic, the characteristics and the influencing factors of various cross-border behaviors which took place in different border regions were studied, and the development and emerging risks of medical tourism which is a special form of cross-border utilization of health care services were pointed out. In addition, some overseas scholars also highlighted the importance of health care accessibility and equality. Because of the complexity of socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of border regions, many non-spatial factors had determinant effects on health care accessibility. In comparison, related research in China started relatively late, and mainly focused on the prevalence, control and influencing factors of various infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV and dengue in Yunnan Province, and the related health care services offered by hospitals. As for research methods, both quantitative and qualitative methods were used by overseas and Chinese scholars, and interdisciplinary characteristics began to show. Quantitative methods are advantageous in identifying the influencing factors of certain diseases or health care utilization behaviors, while qualitative methods perform better in revealing the mechanisms behind phenomena and also in analyzing the interaction between various factors. In general, future research needs to include more areas and discuss health issues in border regions from the perspective of health geography and political geography in the new era. China has many neighboring countries and the geopolitical environment is complex. Research on health care services in border regions needs to be strengthened. In the future, new research methods developed in western countries should be employed based on the Chinese context, such as spatial distribution of health care services and optimization of service layout, and health care service utilization behavior. New conceptual models and emerging theories in border studies need to be combined to perform further research of multidisciplinary characteristics.

Key words: border region, health care services, health geography