Neighbourhoods and potential access to health care: The role of spatial and aspatial factors


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Abstract

The availability of, and access to, primary health care is one neighbourhood characteristic that has the potential to impact health thus representing an important area of focus for neighbourhood-health research. This research examines neighbourhood access to primary health care in the city of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. A modification of the Two Step Floating Catchment Area method is used to measure multiple spatial and aspatial (social) dimensions of potential access to primary health care in natural neighbourhoods of Mississauga. The analysis reveals that neighbourhood-level potential access to primary care is dependant on spatial and aspatial dimensions of access selected for examination. The results also show that potential accessibility is reduced for linguistic minorities as well as for recent immigrant populations who appear, on the surface, to have better access to walk-in clinics than dedicated physicians. The research results reinforce the importance of focusing on intra-urban variations in access to care and demonstrate the utility of a new approach for studying neighbourhood impacts that better represents spatial variations in health care access and demand.

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