Disease-wide accessibility of the elderly in primary care setting: The relationship between geographic accessibility and utilization of outpatient services in Tokushima prefecture, Japan


In Japan, a rapid pace of aging coupled with the lower birth rates causes the decrease of the population especially in rural area, which leads to the problems with the delivery of healthcare services. We investigated the relationship between the geographical accessibility (time and distance) and the utilization rate of outpatient services in the elderly by major disease groups in Tokushima prefecture, Japan. Distances and driving times to the nearest facilities from residential sites in major disease categories were measured by using geographic information system. Utilization data was obtained from the claim data. In diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (M00-M99), diseases of the digestive system (K00-K93), endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases (E00-E90), diseases of the eye and adnexa (H00-H59) and diseases of the respiratory system (J00-J99), there were moderate negative correlations (around –0.4 to –0.6) both in distance and time. Distance and time to the nearest facilities were important factors for the utilization of outpatient services of major disease categories in Japanese elderly. Comprehensive approach which include socio- economic factors is needed to mitigate access problems in aging Japanese society.

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Tsuji, Y. , Hirao, T. , Fujikawa, A. , Hoshikawa, Y. , Yoshioka, A. , Yoda, T. and Suzue, T. (2012) Disease-wide accessibility of the elderly in primary care setting: The relationship between geographic accessibility and utilization of outpatient services in Tokushima prefecture, Japan. Health, 4, 320-326. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.46053.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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