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Travel for primary care

Expectation and performance in a rural setting

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Data and findings are presented pertaining to the expressed travel limits for general medical care of a rural population and the degree to which their observed travel behavior reflects these limits. Considerable variation in expressed reasonable and maximum travel distances and times was observed among respondents in a countywide cross-section sample of the resident population in western Maine.

A substantial proportion of the respondents' visits for general medical care exceeds their reasonable travel limits and some visits exceed the travel limits they considered maximal. Additionally, a comparison of expectations from this study with those of a similar population in another section of the county reveals significant differences.

The findings suggest that health planning could be considerably enhanced by a better understanding of patient preferences for medical care travel behavior, the origins of these preferences, and their relationship to the use of available medical care opportunities. This is particularly true if stated goals of incorporating patient preferences into the health planning process are to be realized.

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Additional information

Dr. Shannon is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40506. Mr. Lovett is Staff Consultant to the Sisters of Mercy Health Corporation and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Medical Care Organization at the University of Michigan. Dr. Bashshur is Professor in the Department of Medical Care Organization, University of Michigan. This research was supported through grant number GI-41770 of the National Science Foundation RANN program. Graphics were prepared by Gyula Pauer, Department of Geography, University of Kentucky.

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Shannon, G., Lovett, J. & Bashshur, R. Travel for primary care. J Community Health 5, 113–125 (1979).

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