Eric Larson, PhD

Director, WWAMI Rural Health Research Center

Phone: 206.616.9601

University of Washington
4311 11th Ave NE, Suite 210
Seattle, WA 98105

Current Projects - (4)

  • Geographic Access to Healthcare for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries: An Update and National Look
    This objective of this study is to compare, at a national and census division level, where rural and urban Medicare beneficiaries receive ambulatory care, which types of specialists they utilize and how far beneficiaries are traveling to obtain care.
    Research center: WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Aging, Chronic diseases and conditions, Health policy, Health services, Medicare, Workforce
  • Increasing the Supply of Providers with a Drug Enforcement Agency Waiver to Treat Opioid Addiction in Rural America – Possible Effects of Permitting Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners to Prescribe Buprenorphine
    This study will investigate the possible effects on rural access to treatment for opioid use disorder if Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) waivers to prescribe buprenorphine as an office-based outpatient treatment for opioid addiction are available to Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs).
    Research center: WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Health policy, Legislation and regulation, Nurse practitioners, Physician assistants, Physicians, Substance abuse, Workforce
  • What Impact Will Unified GME Accreditation Have on Rural-focused Physician Residencies
    The impending unification of allopathic and osteopathic graduate medical education (GME) under a single accreditation system has uncertain implications for small and rural-focused residency programs. This proposed study aims to (1) quantify the rural practice outcomes of residencies in rurally-relevant specialties such as pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, emergency medicine, surgery, anesthesia, and psychiatry, and (2) interview key stakeholders to identify anticipated challenges of the accreditation merger and potential policies to strengthen vulnerable rural-focused residencies during the transition.
    Research center: WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Topic: Physicians
  • What Makes Physician Assistant Programs Successful at Training Rural PAs?
    A current WWAMI RHRC study has identified the physician assistant (PA ) training programs that have reduced high numbers and high proportions of graduates working in rural areas. The proposed study will extend that work through a physician assistant program survey, identifying key characteristics, admission, and training strategies, and missions of successful rural programs.
    Research center: WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Physician assistants, Workforce

Completed Projects - (10)

Publications - (21)

  • Access to Cancer Services for Rural Colorectal Cancer Patients
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 2008
    Includes findings from a study to determine how far rural and urban colorectal cancer (CRC) patients travel to three types of specialty cancer care services-surgery, medical oncology consultation, and radiation oncology consultation.
  • Access to Maternity Care in Rural Washington: Its Effect on Neonatal Outcomes and Resource Use
    Upper Midwest Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 01/1997
    Compares birth outcomes for areas with poor health care access to those with adequate health care access in rural Washington state.
  • Access to Specialty Health Care for Rural American Indians in Two States
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 06/2008
    Examines access to specialty services among rural Indian populations in Montana and New Mexico, based on a survey sent to primary care providers addressing access to specialty physicians, perceived barriers to access, and access to nonphysician clinical services.
  • Barriers Rural Physicians Face Prescribing Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 07/2017
    Opioid use disorder is a serious public health problem. Management with buprenorphine is an effective medication-assisted treatment, but 60.1% of rural counties lack a physician with a Drug Enforcement Agency waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. This national study surveyed all rural physicians who have received a waiver in the United States.
  • Changes in the Supply of Physicians with a DEA DATA Waiver to Prescribe Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder
    Policy Brief
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 05/2017
    This project mapped the location of physicians with a DEA DATA 2000 waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder in July 2012 and April 2016. The number of counties without a waivered physician and the ratio of waivered physicians per 100,000 population is reported by the rural/urban status of the county.
  • Characterizing the General Surgery Workforce in Rural America
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 05/2004
    General surgeons form a crucial component of the medical workforce in rural areas of the United States. Analysis of the data suggests that the general surgical workforce has not kept pace with the rising population, and that the number of general surgeons in most rural areas of the U.S. will decline further. Report available by contacting the Center.
  • The Contribution of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to Generalist Care in Underserved Areas of Washington State
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 08/2003
    Uses productivity data from the non-physician clinician (NPC) and physician populations in Washington State to assess the contribution to generalist care made by NPCs, giving special attention to the role of NPCs in rural and underserved areas and the role of women NPCs in the female provider population. Overall, generalist NPCs make up 23.4 percent of the generalist provider population and perform about 21 percent of the generalist outpatient visits in Washington State. NPC contribution is higher in rural areas of the state and a bit lower in urban areas. In rural areas, female physicians provided only 49.3 percent of the visits by female providers; female NPCs provided the remaining 50.3 percent. In urban areas, female physicians provided about 63.5 percent; female NPCs provided 46.5 percent. NPCs made similar contributions to total care in rural HPSAs compared to rural non-shortage areas, though physician assistants appear to contribute somewhat more care in HPSAs with severe shortages of providers. The results suggest that accurate and meaningful estimates of available generalist care must take into account the contribution of NPCs.
  • Dimensions of Retention: A National Study of the Locational Histories of Physician Assistants
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 1999
    This study describes the locational histories of a representative national sample of physician assistants and considers the implications of observed locational behavior for recruitment and retention of physician assistants in rural practice.
  • Geographic and Specialty Distribution of US Physicians Trained to Treat Opioid Use Disorder
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 01/2015
    Examines the distribution of physicians authorized to treat opioid use disorder in the United States, and proposes increasing access to office-based treatment as a promising strategy to address rising rates of opioid use disorder in rural areas.
  • Graduates of Rural-centric Family Medicine Residencies: Determinants of Rural and Urban Practice
    Policy Brief
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 07/2016
    This study of graduates of family medicine residencies seeking to produce rural physicians identified influences on rural practice choice, including significant others, residency, and practice communities. Findings point to the need to sustain the preferences of physicians interested in rural practice and encourage this interest in others.
  • How Could Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Be Deployed to Provide Rural Primary Care?
    Policy Brief
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 03/2016
    New (2014) rural enrollees in the insurance plans on federal and state exchanges are expected to generate about 1.39 million primary care visits per year. At a national level, it would require 345 full-time equivalent physicians to provide those visits. This study examines how different mixes of physicians, PAs and NPs might meet the increase.
  • Modeling the Mental Health Workforce in Washington State: Using State Licensing Data to Examine Provider Supply in Rural and Urban Areas
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 2006
    Identifies mental health shortage areas using existing licensing and survey data. Found that notable shortages of mental health providers existed throughout the state, especially in rural areas. Urban areas had 3x the psychiatrist FTEs per 100,000 and more than 1.5x the nonpsychiatrist mental health provider FTEs per 100,000 as rural areas.
  • National Estimates of Physician Assistant Productivity
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 2001
    Analysis of productivity data from a nationally representative sample of physician assistants (PAs) showed that PAs performed 61.4 outpatient visits per week compared with 74.2 visits performed by physicians. However, productivity of PAs varies strongly across practice specialty and location.
  • Pathways to Rural Practice: A Chartbook of Family Medicine Residency Training Locations and Characteristics
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 08/2005
    Discusses characteristics and geographic locations of family medicine residency programs' rural locations, types of rural family medicine training by location, and rural mission of family medicine residencies.
  • Poor Birth Outcome in the Rural United States: 1985-1987 to 1995-1997 (Project Summary)
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 02/2008
    Rates of low birthweight, poor outcomes, and inadequate prenatal care among urban and rural areas were evaluated and compared from 1985-1997 using data from the Linked Birth-Death Data Set. The study found that while progress was made in closing rural/urban gaps, rural residence and residence in a persistent poverty county remained independent risk factors for inadequate care and some adverse birth outcomes, especially postneonatal mortality.
  • Rural Definitions for Health Policy and Research
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 07/2005
    Defining "rural" for health policy and research purposes requires researchers and policy analysts to specify which aspects of rurality are most relevant to the topic at hand and then select an appropriate definition. Rural and urban taxonomies often do not discuss important demographic, cultural, and economic differences across rural places-differences that have major implications for policy and research. Factors such as geographic scale and region also must be considered. Several useful rural taxonomies are discussed and compared in this article. Careful attention to the definition of "rural" is required for effectively targeting policy and research aimed at improving the health of rural Americans.
  • State of the Health Workforce in Rural America: Profiles and Comparisons
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 01/2003

    Overview of rural healthcare workforce issues. National and state-by-state data on the healthcare workforce, with rural-urban comparisons and interstate comparisons. Also includes data on rural healthcare facilities. To request a copy, call (206) 685-0402 or email:

  • Supply and Distribution of the Behavioral Health Workforce in Rural America
    Policy Brief
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 09/2016
    This brief uses National Provider Identifier (NPI) data to report on the variability of the supply and provider to population ratios of five types of behavioral health workforce providers (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurse practitioners, counselors) in Metropolitan, Micropolitan and Non-core rural areas across the U.S.
  • Trends in Perinatal and Infant Health Disparities Between Rural American Indians and Alaska Natives and Rural Whites
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 04/2009
    Examines perinatal care, birth outcomes, and infant health between rural American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) persons and rural Whites over time. Despite significant decreases in inadequate prenatal care and postneonatal death among American Indians and Alaska Natives, additional measures are needed to close health gaps for this group.
  • What Is the Potential of Community Paramedicine to Fill Rural Healthcare Gaps?
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 11/2016
    This study collected information on rural community paramedicine in the U.S. programs to describe their goals, target populations, services offered, connections with local community providers and resources, outcomes measured, and results, where available.
  • Which Physician Assistant Training Programs Produce Rural PAs? A National Study
    Policy Brief
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 02/2016
    The proportion of physician assistant (PA) graduates who enter practice in rural settings has dropped over the last two decades, though PAs still continue to enter rural practice at a higher rate than primary care physicians. This identifies the PA training programs that produced high numbers of rural PAs and the programs associated.