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The Effects of Telephone Visits and Rurality on Veterans Perceptions of Access to Primary Care.

Lampman M, Stockdale S, Kaboli PJ, Jaske E, Wood GB, Clinton WL, Stewart G. The Effects of Telephone Visits and Rurality on Veterans Perceptions of Access to Primary Care. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM. 2019 Sep 1; 32(5):749-751.

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INTRODUCTION: The objectives of this study were to examine if self-reported access to primary care is associated with actual patient wait times and use of telephone visits, and to assess whether this relationship differs by rural residence. METHODS: This study used 2016 administrative data from 994 primary care clinics within the Veterans Health Administration. Multiple-linear regression was used to examine relationships between patient perceptions of access and average actual patient wait time, use of telephone visits, and rural residence. Average panel size, clinic type, and panel severity were included as model covariates with cross-product terms for actual wait time, telephone use, and rurality to test for interactions. RESULTS: This study found patient perceptions of access aggregated at the clinic level to be conditional on the relationship between use of telephone visits, actual patient wait times, and rural residence. As actual wait time for routine appointments increases, Veterans served by clinics with a higher percent of rural Veterans perceive telephone visits more positively. DISCUSSION: These findings contribute to our understanding of factors associated with patient perceptions of access by highlighting complex interrelationships between strategies intended to improve access to care and how they can have differing impacts on perceptions among those living in rural or urban locations.

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