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Why rural residents migrate for family physician care

Borders TF, Rohrer JE, Hilsenrath PE, Ward MM. Why rural residents migrate for family physician care. The Journal of rural health : official journal of the American Rural Health Association and the National Rural Health Care Association. 2000 Oct 1; 16(4):337-48.

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Several studies have examined why rural residents bypass local hospitals, but few have explored why they migrate for physician care. In this study, data from a random mail survey of households in rural Iowa counties were used to determine how consumers' attitudes about their local health system, health beliefs, health insurance coverage and other personal characteristics influenced their selection of local vs. nonlocal family physicians (family physician refers to the family practice, internal medicine or other medical specialist providing an individual's primary care). Migration for family physician care was positively associated with a perceived shortage of local family physicians and use of nonlocal specialty physician care. Migration was negatively associated with a highly positive rating of the overall local health care system, living in town, Lutheran religious affiliation and private health insurance coverage. By understanding why rural residents prefer to bypass local physicians, rural health system managers, physicians and policy-makers should be better prepared to design innovative health organizations and programs that meet the needs of rural consumers.

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