Urban-Rural Disparity in Geographical and Temporal Availability of Pediatric Clinics: A Nationwide Survey in Taiwan

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Background The shortage and maldistribution of pediatricians affected after-hours pediatric services, especially in rural areas. Our study aimed to examine the urban-rural disparity in geographical and temporal availability of the pediatrician workforce in Taiwan by analyzing opening time schedules of all pediatric clinics throughout the country. Methods The opening time schedules of nonhospital pediatric clinics were downloaded from the website of the National Health Insurance Administration in Taiwan for analysis. The geographical and temporal availability of pediatric clinics was calculated and stratified by urbanization level and opening time, which was divided into daytime and evening sessions over 1 week. Each of 368 towns in Taiwan was also regarded as a unit of measurement to estimate the local availability of at least one pediatric clinic open in after-hours sessions. Results Among 1483 nonhospital pediatric clinics in Taiwan, the overwhelming majority were situated in urban (65.8%) and suburban (30.6%) areas. On average, a pediatric clinic provided 16.3 (standard deviation = 3.04) sessions of services per week. One-third (34.7%, n = 50) of 144 suburban towns and over three-fourths (77.4%, n = 120) of 155 rural towns had no pediatric clinic. Most pediatric clinics remained open on weekday evenings (91.1%) and during Saturday daytime (91.8%). The percentage of open clinics gradually decreased over the weekend: Saturday evening (58.1%), Sunday daytime (33.4%), and Sunday evening (19.4%). Rural pediatric clinics remained closed mostly on weekends. On Sunday evenings, pediatric clinics were open only in 5.2% of rural towns, with a decline of 77.1%, whereas they were open in 78.3% of urban towns, with a decline of 18.2%. Conclusion Pediatric clinics in Taiwan were unevenly distributed between urban and rural areas. The disparity of pediatric services became more obvious at weekends. The consequences of undersupplied rural pediatric care deserve further investigation.




Leu, H. I., Chang, W. T., Lin, M. H., Chen, T. J., Hwang, S. J., Chou, L. F., & Jeng, M. J. (2017). Urban-Rural Disparity in Geographical and Temporal Availability of Pediatric Clinics: A Nationwide Survey in Taiwan. Pediatrics and Neonatology, 58(4), 344–349. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedneo.2016.07.008

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