The Effects of Rural Residence and Other Social Vulnerabilities on Subjective Measures of Unmet Need

Medical Care Research and Review

To determine whether self-reports of unmet need are biased measures of access to healthcare, the authors examined the relationship between rural residence and perceived need for physician services. Logistic regression analyses was performed to examine the likelihood of reporting a need for routine preventive care and/or specialty care using data from the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. Even after controlling for factors known to be associated with evaluated need, parents of rural children were less likely to report a need for routine or specialty services. Poor children, those whose mothers had less education, and those who were uninsured in the previous year were also less likely to perceive a need for physician services. Findings suggest that rural residence and other social vulnerabilities are associated with decreased perception of need, which may bias subjective measurements of unmet need for these populations.

North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
Michelle Mayer, Rebecca Slifkin, Asheley Cockrell Skinner