Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Distance is relative: unpacking a principal barrier in rural healthcare.

Buzza C, Ono SS, Turvey C, Wittrock S, Noble M, Reddy G, Kaboli PJ, Reisinger HS. Distance is relative: unpacking a principal barrier in rural healthcare. Journal of general internal medicine. 2011 Nov 1; 26 Suppl 2:648-54.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information vaww.hsrd.research.va.gov/dimensions/

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions



Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Distance to healthcare services is a known barrier to access. However, the degree to which distance is a barrier is not well described. Distance may impact different patients in different ways and be mediated by the context of medical need. OBJECTIVE: Identify factors related to distance that impede access to care for rural veterans. APPROACH: Mixed-methods approach including surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups at 15 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) primary care clinics in 8 Midwestern states. Survey data were compiled and interviews transcribed and coded for thematic content. PARTICIPANTS: Surveys were completed by 96 patients and 88 providers/staff. In-depth interviews were completed by 42 patients and 64 providers/staff. A total of 7 focus groups were convened consisting of providers and staff. KEY RESULTS: Distance was identified by patients, providers, and staff as the most important barrier for rural veterans seeking healthcare. In-depth interviews revealed specific examples of barriers to care such as long travel for common diagnostic services, routine specialty care, and emergency services. Patient factors compounding the impact of these barriers were health status, functional impairment, travel cost, and work or family obligations. Providers and staff reported challenges to healthcare delivery due to distance. CONCLUSIONS: Distance as a barrier to healthcare was not uniformly defined. Rather, its importance was relative to the health status and resources of patients, complexity of service provided, and urgency of service needed. Improved transportation, flexible fee-based services, more structured communication mechanisms, and integration with community resources will improve access to care and overall health status for rural veterans.





Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.