Barriers to Regionalized Surgical Care: Public Perspective Survey and Geospatial Analysis

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To describe public willingness to participate in regionalized surgical care for cancer.

Summary of Background Data:

Improved outcomes at high-volume centers following complex surgery have driven a push to regionalize surgical care. Patient attitudes toward regionalization are not well described.


As part of the Cornell National Social Survey, a cross-sectional telephone survey was performed. Participants were asked about their willingness to seek regionalized care in a hypothetical scenario requiring surgery. Their responses were compared with demographic characteristics. A geospatial analysis of hospital proximity was performed, as well as a qualitative analysis of barriers to regionalization.


Cooperation rate was 48.1% with 1000 total respondents. They were an average of 50 years old (range 18 to 100 years) and 48.9% female. About 49.6% were unwilling to travel 5 hours or more to seek regionalized care for improved survival. Age >70 years [odds ratio (OR) 0.34, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.19–0.60] and perceived distance to a center >30 minutes (OR 0.60, 95% CI 0.41–0.86) were associated with decreased willingness to seek regionalized care, while high income (OR 2.09, 95% CI 1.39–3.16) was associated with increased willingness. Proximity to a major center was not associated with willingness to travel (OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.67–1.22). Major perceived barriers to regionalization were transportation, life disruption, social support, socioeconomic resources, poor health, and remoteness.


Americans are divided on whether the potential for improved survival with regionalization is worth the additional travel effort. Older age and lower income are associated with reduced willingness to seek regionalized care. Multiple barriers to regionalization exist, including a lack of knowledge of the location major centers.

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