More Doctors are Needed in America's Inner Cities

Study of urban physician supply trends

Investigators from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School examined changes in the availability of physicians in U.S. urban areas from 1980 to 1997.

Key Findings: Key findings reported to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Council on Graduate Medical Education include the following:

  • The number of office-based primary care physicians grew from 1980 to 1997, and availability was higher in non-poverty areas.
  • The number of specialists and hospital-based physicians grew much faster in poverty areas during this period.
  • Physician availability is most strongly associated with the concentration of hospitals in an area.
  • No single policy aimed at altering the medical workforce showed a dramatic impact on physician availability.
  • In 1997, the availability of office-based primary care physicians in both high- and low-poverty areas was below levels considered adequate by a panel of 11 medical workforce experts polled by the principal investigator.