Spatial Access to Hospital-based Obstetric Units in Minoritized Racial/Ethnic Areas


Travel burdens to reach a hospital with obstetric units vary. This report looks at spatial access to hospital-based obstetric units in minoritized racial/ethnic areas.

Key Findings

  • Over two-thirds of rural ZIP code tabulation areas (ZCTAs) are more than 15 miles away from their nearest hospital obstetric unit and 27.2% of rural ZCTAs are over 30 miles away. In contrast, less than 9% of urban ZCTAs are over 30 miles from a hospital obstetric unit.
  • In urban ZCTA areas with high proportions of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) residents, 34.1% had no hospital-based obstetric unit within 15 miles, and this number increased to 80.2% in rural AI/AN areas.
  • Approximately one third of rural ZCTAs with highly represented Hispanic/Latino populations have no obstetric care within 30 miles. This is similar to highly represented White rural communities. However, rural Hispanic/Latino minoritized racial/ethnic group (MRG) areas have much higher uninsured rates than rural areas highly represented by White residents or those without MRGs.
  • Results suggest that Black-White maternal health disparities might be independent of distances to a hospital obstetric unit at the community level and instead associated with the social determinants of health.
Rural and Minority Health Research Center
Peiyin Hung, Gabriel Benavidez, Melinda Merrell, Whitney Zahnd, Elizabeth Crouch, Jan Eberth