Rural–Urban Health Care Provider Disparities in Alaska and New Mexico
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Compared to their urban counterparts, rural residents face numerous disparities in obtaining health care, including limited access to care providers. We assessed disparities in provider availability in rural versus urban Alaska and New Mexico, with emphasis on professionals likely to provide mental health care. Using lists of licenses, we categorized physical and mental health care providers into rural versus urban and calculated rural versus urban disparity ratios. Rural residents had significantly less access to health care providers and discrepancies grew with level of required provider education and specialization. Addressing disparities via creative strategies is crucial to improving rural care delivery.
Keywordshealth care disparities provider shortages rurality rural urban.
The research was supported in part by grant 1RO1DA13139 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Roberts also gratefully acknowledges the support of a Career Development Award (1KO2MH01918) from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Appreciation is expressed to Marcine Mullen at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Dr. Pamela Monaghan and Audrey Solimon at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine for their invaluable assistance.
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