Children Left Behind

Access to primary care for children is lacking many areas

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) According to a recent study, there is a large disparity in access to primary care for US children, especially for those living in rural areas.

Conducted by researchers from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the Department of Pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School, the study found that nearly one million children in the United States live in areas, generally rural, absent of any local primary care physicians. In contrast, urban areas tend to have an ample amount of primary care physicians. In some urban locations, there is an average of one physician for every 140 children.

The researchers analyzed national data in order to calculate the per-capita supply of primary care physicians for children across different geographic primary care service areas. They found that, between 1996 and 2006, the population growth of pediatricians and family physicians was significantly more than the population growth of children. However, the study's authors point out that the increased amount of primary care has done nothing to improve the disparity in geographic access to that care.

In order to promote family physician practices in underserved areas, the authors suggest creating incentives tolure physicians. They recommend that physician training programs and medical schools identify those interested in practicing in underserved areas, and then encourage that interest in helping communities. The authors conclude by advocating for directing public funding towards developing, using, and evaluating policies aimed at reducing the geographic maldistribution of physicians for children.

There are more then enough doctors out there, they just aren't in all the places they need to be.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 21, 2010
Last Updated:
December 21, 2010