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Retail Clinics Not Accessible to Underserved Populations

These clinics tend to be in areas with lower minority populations, higher median income

FRIDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- So-called retail clinics tend to be located in economically advantaged areas and are not readily accessible to the populations that most need them, according to a study in the May 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Craig Evan Pollack, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and a colleague mapped the locations of retail clinics as of July 1, 2008, and correlated those locations to the 2008 Health Resources and Services Administration data and 2000 United States Census data. The researchers conducted bivariate analyses and used logistic regression models to compare census tracts that had clinics with those that did not.

A total of 930 retail clinics were mapped; 17 states had 25 retail clinics or more and 18 states had no clinics. The researchers found that the areas with retail clinics tended to have a lower percentage of blacks and Hispanics, fewer rental units, lower rates of poverty and higher median incomes than the areas that did not have retail clinics. Also, both stand-alone retail clinics and stores with retail clinics were less likely to be in medically underserved areas.

"These results raise important questions about the ability of retail clinics to increase health care access for the underserved or uninsured. Despite features such as walk-in appointments and evening and weekend hours, access by disadvantaged populations may be limited if the clinic is difficult to reach," the authors conclude.

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