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Some Areas of United States Have No Rheumatologists

In some smaller micropolitan areas closest practicing rheumatologist is more than 200 miles away

THURSDAY, Dec. 5, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Some regions of the United States, mainly smaller micropolitan areas, have no practicing rheumatologists, according to a study published in the December issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

John D. FitzGerald, M.D. Ph.D., from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues used data from 3,920 rheumatologists in the American College of Rheumatology Membership database to map and assess the number of rheumatologists per Core Based Statistical Area. Data from the 2010 United States census were used to analyze the associated demographics.

The researchers found that 90 percent of rheumatologists practiced in metropolitan areas, 3 percent in micropolitan areas, and 7 percent in rural areas. Many areas did not have a practicing rheumatologist, particularly smaller micropolitan areas. The closest practicing rheumatologist was more than 200 miles away in some regions with populations of at least 40,000, while no practicing rheumatologist was available in some regions with populations of 200,000 or more. More rheumatologists were present in areas with higher population densities, higher median incomes, and rheumatology training programs.

"These findings highlight that many smaller regions of the country have no or few practicing adult rheumatologists," FitzGerald and colleagues conclude.

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