Where Have All the Doctors Gone?

Published in: JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, v. 247, no. 17, May 7, 1982, p. 2392-2396

by Joseph P. Newhouse, Albert P. Williams, Bruce W. Bennett, William B. Schwartz

As the supply of physicians grew during the 1970s, medical and surgical specialists diffused into smaller communities. In 1979, nearly every town with a population of more than 2,500 had ready access to a physician. The overall pattern of physician distribution was quite similar in the four disparate geographic regions chosen for study. The data strongly suggest that competitive forces play a major role in determining where physicians choose to practice. As the pool of physicians expands during the 1980s, a wide range of services will become increasingly available to populations outside metropolitan areas. The methods developed here provide important tool for evaluating and shaping health manpower policy.

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