More Doctors are Needed in America's Inner Cities

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

  • 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.