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J Rural Health. 1987 Jan;3(1):53-70.

The rural-urban distribution of health professionals in Georgia.


In this paper, the rural/urban geographic distribution of licensed health professionals living in the state of Georgia is examined. Using 1983 data from the State Examining Boards, 13 health professions were studied to determine rural and urban differences. Three indicators of ruralness were used to classify county of residence: metropolitan/nonmetropolitan, metropolitan proximity, and size of county population. Results from data analyses indicate a severe geographic maldistribution of health professionals. With all three indicators, 11 of the 13 professions had urban rates of professionals-to-population substantially higher than the corresponding rural rates. A linear configuration seems to illustrate the relationship between the availability of health professionals and the ruralness of the county--as the county becomes more rural, the number of health professionals per population decreases. The percentage increase in physicians since 1968 and nurses since 1979 in nonmetropolitan counties was slightly higher than in metropolitan counties, indicating that this gap is closing somewhat. The most severe rural/urban differences in the number of professionals which per population were found in the more specialized health professions per tended to be the smallest in terms of numbers of members (e.g., occupational therapists, psychologists, speech pathologists/audiologists, podiatrists, opticians and physical therapists). These differences ranged up to a 20 plus-fold difference. Physicians, chiropractors, dentists, physician assistants and registered nurses also had relatively large rural/urban differences but less than the more specialized professions.

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