Assessing consistency among indices to measure socioeconomic barriers to health care access

AbstractMany places within rural America lack ready access to health care facilities. Barriers to access can be both spatial and non-spatial. Measurements of spatial access, such as the Enhanced Floating 2-Step Catchment Area and other floating catchment area measures, produce similar patterns of access. However, the extent to which different measurements of socioeconomic barriers to access correspond with each other has not been examined. Using West Virginia as a case study, we compute indices based upon the literature and measure the correlations among them. We find that all indices positively correlate with each other, although the strength of the correlation varies. Also, while there is broad agreement in the general spatial trends, such as fewer barriers in urban areas, and more barriers in the impoverished southwestern portion of the state, there are regions within the state that have more disagreement among the indices. These indices are to be used to support decision-making with respect to placement of rural residency students from medical schools within West Virginia to provide students with educational experiences as well as address health care inequalities within the state. The results indicate that for decisions and policies that address statewide trends, the choice of metric is not critical. However, when the decisions involve specific locations for receiving rural residents or opening clinics, the results can become more sensitive to the selection of the index. ...
Source: Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology - Category: Statistics Source Type: research

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