Few Retail Health Clinics Located in Low-Income Areas, Study Finds
Most retail health clinics are located in more affluent areas of the U.S., rather than in low-income, medically underserved neighborhoods, according to a study published on Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the AP/Washington Times reports.
For the study, researchers mapped 930 retail clinics operating in 2008 and used U.S. census data to evaluate the overall income and racial characteristics of the neighborhoods where clinics were located. In counties with at least one retail health clinic, researchers compared census areas with and without retail clinics. According to the study, 123 clinics were in communities classified by the federal government as medically underserved. Communities with clinics had lower percentages of black and Hispanic residents, lower poverty rates, higher homeownership rates and higher median incomes, according to the study.
Ateev Mehrotra of the University of Pittsburgh said, "Many people have promoted retail clinics as a cure for access to care for the underserved," adding, "These findings show that's unlikely to happen." Lead study author Craig Pollack of the University of Pennsylvania said the study's results suggest financial incentives might be needed to bring clinics to low-income communities (Johnson, AP/Washington Times, 5/26).
An abstract of the study is available online.