More Doctors Not Only Key to Improving Primary Care in Rural America

Research on the effectiveness of health policy options in rural health care

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examined the long-term impact of federal, state, and private investment on rural communities' physician recruitment and physician workforce stability.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Generalist Provider Research Initiative.

Key Findings

  • The key findings reported in an article in the Journal of Rural Health and in a report to RWJF include the following:

    • There is a positive relationship between direct federal investments in health care and per capita physician supply, but the overall effect of funds on supply is small.
      • Federal solutions may not be the most efficient way to increase the number of physicians in a community, and substantially different or more vigorous mechanisms might be required.
    • If the goal is to expand access to primary care, then efforts to increase the supply of midlevel practitioners might be just as important.