Safety net health centers fill in urban gaps

July 19, 2012 By Sarah Jorgenson

Urban areas that are segregated by race, ethnicity or income have more Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), which provide primary care services for disadvantaged populations, despite an adequate supply of private sector physicians, according to new findings published in Health Services Research.

, by absolute number, should have an adequate supply of physicians in the private sector, yet the need for these FQHCs to make up for these gaps speaks more to distribution and the effects the distribution has on disparities in access to care,” said lead author and Ph.D. candidate Michelle Ko, M.D. of the Fielding School of Public Health at University of California, Los Angeles.

After analyzing data from the Area Resource File from 2000 to 2007 and 2000 U.S. Census data on 1,786 metropolitan counties, the researchers found that counties with a large minority population were more likely to have an FQHC in 2000, and counties that gained at least one FQHC from 2000 to 2007 had more low income residents and racial/ethnic minorities in segregated communities.

 “As long as we have persistent resident segregation with income and race/ethnicity, we will continue to need safety net providers,” said Ko.

“We know a lot of problems that result from segregation and are typically thought of around unequal education and a number of other kinds of issues, but I don’t think is one of the impacts that people think of,” said Jessica Greene, Ph.D., an Associate Professor at the University of Oregon’s Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management.  “It substantiates this theory that race really seems to matter in terms of where doctors are located and whether doctors are willing to accept low income patients.”

Greater diversification of the health care workforce and finding providers who are really committed to minority populations may help to alleviate health care disparities that stem from access issues related to income and racial/ethnic segregation, said Ko. “Until that happens… there will continue to be that catch up where FQHCs will continue to be critically important in filling gaps for access to care for racial and ethnic minorities.”

Explore further: Treatment for minority stroke patients improves at top-ranked hospitals

More information: Ko, M. and Ponce, N.A. (2012) Community residential segregation and the local supply of Federally Qualified Health Centers. Health Services Research. In Press. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1475-6773/

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Bright lighting encourages healthy food choices

May 26, 2016

Dining in dimly lit restaurants has been linked to eating slowly and ultimately eating less than in brighter restaurants, but does lighting also impact how healthfully we order?

Big Data can save lives, says leading cancer expert

May 16, 2016

The sharing of genetic information from millions of cancer patients around the world could be key to revolutionising cancer prevention and care, according to a leading cancer expert from Queen's University Belfast.

New soap to ward off malaria carrying mosquitoes

May 13, 2016

(Medical Xpress)—Gérard Niyondiko along with colleagues Frank Langevin and Lisa Barutel has posted a project on the crowd source funding site ulule for a product called Faso Soap. They claim the soap can cut in half the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.