Sociodemographic Characteristics of Communities Served by Retail Clinics

Published in: Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, v. 23, no. 1, Jan./Feb. 2010, p. 42-48

Posted on on January 01, 2010

by Rena Rudavsky, Ateev Mehrotra

Read More

Access further information on this document at Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

PURPOSE: As a rapidly growing new health care delivery model in the United States, retail clinics have been the subject of much debate and controversy. Located physically within a retail store, retail clinics provide simple acute and preventive services for a fixed price and without an appointment. Some hope that retail clinics can be a new safety-net provider for the poor and those without a primary care physician. To better understand the potential for retail clinics to achieve this goal, we describe the sociodemographic characteristics of the communities in which they operate. METHODS: The authors created an inventory of all retail clinics in the United States and determined the proportion that are in a health professional shortage area (HPSA). They defined each retail clinic's catchment area as all census blocks that were less than a 5-minute driving distance from the clinic. The authors compared the sociodemographic characteristics of the population within and outside of these retail clinic catchment areas. RESULTS: Of the 982 clinics in 32 states, 88.4% were in an urban area and 12.5% were in an HPSA (20.9% of the US population lives within an HPSA). Compared with the rest of the urban population, the population living within a retail clinic catchment area has a higher median household income ($52,849 vs $46,080), is better educated (32.6% vs 24.9% with a college degree), and is as likely to be uninsured (17.7% vs 17.0%). In a multivariate model, the census block's median household income had the strongest association with whether the census block was in a retail clinic catchment area (odds ratio, 3.63; 95% CI, 3.26-4.05; median income, $54,779 vs <$30,781, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: The authors found that relatively few retail clinics are located in HPSAs and that, compared with the rest of the urban population, the population living in close proximity to a retail clinic has a higher income.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.