Dentist-to-population and practice-to-population ratios: in a shortage environment with gross mal-distribution what should rural and remote communities focus their attention on?
Citation: Tennant M, Kruger E, Shiyha J. Dentist-to-population and practice-to-population ratios: in a shortage environment with gross mal-distribution what should rural and remote communities focus their attention on? Rural and Remote Health 13: 2518. (Online) 2013. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au
Introduction: Australia is the sixth largest country (in area) in the world with a total area of over 7.5 million km2 (3 million miles2). To date much of the research and policy activity in the dental workforce has been based on simple statistical analysis including practitioner-to-population ratios; however, risks are associated with the application of these types of ratios. This study examined practice-to-population (PtP) ratios as a measure of accessibility.Key words: accessibility, Australia, dentistry, marginalized communities, population, statistics.
Methods: Two states of Australia with a total population of about 8 million people were chosen for the study data frame-set.
Results: General dental practice (n=3841) locations were mapped against population for each state and each suburb (n=3545) within each state. Practice-to-population ratios for each suburb differed by almost 40 000% (ranging from 1:52 to 1:20 100) with the greatest density of practices in the core of the capital cities – coincident with high wealth areas.
Conclusion: The study found that PtP ratios in the context of workforce mal-distribution and geographic impediments to access is an important measure.
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