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Measuring potential physical accessibility to general practitioners in rural areas: A method and case study


  • Joseph, Alun E.
  • Bantock, Peter R.


The general practitioner is the key element within most rural health care delivery systems, virtually controlling referal to higher levels of care as well as providing basic care. In consequence of the progressive urban-based centralization of health care facilities and specialized personnel encouraged by the desire to take advantage of economies of scale in supply, the role of the general practitioner within rural health care delivery has become increasingly crucial. However, the supply of general practitioners in rural areas has not kept pace with demands, and accessibility to physicians has become a pressing issue in many rural areas. Although 'accessibility' is not taken to be synonymous with physical or geographical accessibility, the dispersed settlement characteristic of most rural areas elevates the latter to a position of primary importance. Following a discussion of the merits of measures of accessibility based upon utilization versus measures based upon the relative location of population and physicians, a measure on potential physical accessibility is presented and applied to a Canadian data set. The results suggest that although considerable differences in potential accessibility exist between rural areas near and far from urban centres, the smaller catchment populations of most rural general practitioners may partly compensate for isolation from major, urban concentrations of physicians.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph, Alun E. & Bantock, Peter R., 1982. "Measuring potential physical accessibility to general practitioners in rural areas: A method and case study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 85-90, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:16:y:1982:i:1:p:85-90

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    Cited by:

    1. Tóth, Géza & Kincses, Áron, 2015. "Accessibility Models Based On the Gravity Analogy: In Theory and Practice," MPRA Paper 73952, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Olof Åslund & John Östh & Yves Zenou, 2010. "How important is access to jobs? Old question--improved answer," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 389-422, May.
    3. Yao, Jing & Murray, Alan T. & Agadjanian, Victor, 2013. "A geographical perspective on access to sexual and reproductive health care for women in rural Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 60-68.
    4. repec:spr:infosf:v:20:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10796-018-9829-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. GOBILLON Laurent & SELOD Harris, 2007. "The effects of segregation and spatial mismatch on unemployment: evidence from France," Research Unit Working Papers 0702, Laboratoire d'Economie Appliquee, INRA.
    6. Siegel, Martin & Koller, Daniela & Vogt, Verena & Sundmacher, Leonie, 2016. "Developing a composite index of spatial accessibility across different health care sectors: A German example," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 205-212.
    7. repec:eee:soceps:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:13-25 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Shortt, Niamh K. & Moore, Adrian & Coombes, Mike & Wymer, Colin, 2005. "Defining regions for locality health care planning: a multidimensional approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(12), pages 2715-2727, June.
    9. repec:bla:presci:v:95:y:2016:i:4:p:843-863 is not listed on IDEAS

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