Abstract

Characteristics of medical deserts and approaches to mitigate them: a scoping review

Part of Special Series: WONCA World Rural Health Conference Abstracts 2022go to url

AUTHORS

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Laura Seils1
Researcher, Masters Student *

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Linda E Flinterman2
Researcher

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Julia Bes4
Researcher

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Marta Ballester5
Researcher

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Sorin Dan6
Researcher

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Alicja Domagała7
Associate Professor

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Katarzyna Dubas-Jakóbczyk8
Associate Professor

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Robert Likic9
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine

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Marieke Kroezen10
Senior Researcher

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Ronald S Batenburg11
Program Leader

CORRESPONDENCE

*Ms Laura Seils

AFFILIATIONS

1, 5 Avedis Donabedian Research Institute (FAD) – UAB, Barcelona, Spain; and Red de Investigación en Servicios de Salud en Enfermedades Crónicas (REDISSEC), Madrid, Spain

2, 4 Health Workforce and Organization Studies, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), Utrecht, The Netherlands

6 Innovation and Entrepreneurship InnoLab, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland

7, 8 Department of Health Policy and Management, Institute of Public Health, Jagiellonian University, Krakov, Poland

9 School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

10 Trimbos Institute, Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Utrecht, The Netherlands

11 Health Workforce and Organization Studies, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), Utrecht, The Netherlands; and Department of Sociology, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

PUBLISHED

10 January 2023 Volume 23 Issue 1

HISTORY

RECEIVED: 20 September 2022

ACCEPTED: 20 September 2022

CITATION

Seils L, Flinterman LE, Bes J, Ballester M, Dan S, Domagała A, Dubas-Jakóbczyk K, Likic R, Kroezen M, Batenburg RS.  Characteristics of medical deserts and approaches to mitigate them: a scoping review. Rural and Remote Health 2023; 23: 8090. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH8090

AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONSgo to url

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence

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abstract:

Introduction: Medical deserts are increasingly considered problematic and many countries employ a multitude of actions and initiatives to achieve a better distribution of the health workforce (HWF). This study systematically maps research and provides an overview of the definitions/characteristics of medical deserts. It also identifies contributing factors and approaches to mitigate medical deserts.

Methods: Embase, MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science Core Collection, Google Scholar and The Cochrane Library were searched from inception to May 2021. Studies reporting primary research on definitions, characteristics, contributing factors and approaches to mitigate medical deserts were included. Two independent reviewers assessed studies for eligibility, extracted data and clustered studies.

Results: Two-hundred and forty studies were included (49% Australia/New Zealand, 43% North America, 8% Europe). All used observational designs except for five quasi-experimental studies. Studies provided definitions (n=160), characteristics (n=71), contributing/associated factors (n=113), and approaches to mitigate medical deserts (n=94). Most medical deserts were defined by the density of the population in an area. Contributing/associated factors consisted in sociodemographic/characteristics of HWF (n=70), work-related factors (n=43) and lifestyle conditions (n=34). Approaches focused on training adapted to the scope of rural practice (n=79), HWF distribution (n=3), support and infrastructure (n=6) and innovative models of care (n=7).

Discussion: Our study provides the first scoping review on definitions, characteristics, contributing/associated factors and approaches to mitigate medical deserts. We identified gaps such as the scarcity of longitudinal studies to investigate factors contributing to medical deserts, and interventional studies to evaluate the effectiveness of approaches to mitigate medical deserts.

This PDF has been produced for your convenience. Always refer to the live site https://www.rrh.org.au/journal/article/8090 for the Version of Record.