Introduction: Public health agencies around the world are concerned about an ever increasing burden of type 2 diabetes and related disability. Access to primary care providers (PCPs) can support early diagnosis and management. However, there is limited literature on how frequently older people with diabetes access PCPs, and their levels of access in rural Australia relative to metropolitan areas.
Methods: In this research paper patterns of PCP use amongst those with diagnosed diabetes and those without diagnosed diabetes (referred to as “healthy” individuals) were compared using a large survey of over 230,000 people aged 45 years and older from New South Wales, Australia. A published model to study the PCP access patterns of a group of individuals with diabetes risk was used.
Results: We found that annual visits to PCPs among 45 and older people with diabetes in rural areas, while higher than healthy rural residents, were significantly lower than their metropolitan counterparts, mirroring similar disparities in PCP use across the rural-urban divide in the healthy population. Similar patterns were also present in the high risk population. Nevertheless, people with diabetes visited PCPs around four times a year, which is around the recommended number of annual visits, though some groups (e.g. those with other comorbid conditions) may need more visits.
Conclusions: Patterns of PCP use among rural residents, while significantly less frequent than their metropolitan counterparts, are at the recommended level for people with diabetes.