Rural and remote dental services shortages: Filling the gaps through geo-spatial analysis evidence-based targeting

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    © 2015, Health Information Management Association of Australia. All rights reserved. Background: Australia has a significant mal-distribution of its limited dental workforce. Outside the major capital cities, the distribution of accessible dental care is at best patchy. Objective: This study applied geo-spatial analysis technology to locate gaps in dental service accessibility for rural and remote dwelling Australians, in order to test the hypothesis that there are a few key location points in Australia where further dental services could make a significant contribution to ameliorating the immediate shortage crisis. Method: A total of 2,086 dental practices were located in country areas, covering a combined catchment area of 1.84million square kilometers, based on 50 km catchment zones around each clinic. Geo-spatial analysis technology was used to identify gaps in the accessibility of dental services for rural and remote dwelling Australians. An extraction of data was obtained to analyse the integrated geographically-aligned database. Results: Resolution of the lack of dental practices for 74 townships (of greater than 500 residents) across Australia could potentially address access for 104,000 people. An examination of the socio-economic mix found that the majority of the dental practices (84%) are located in areas classified as less disadvantaged. Output from the study provided a cohesive national map that has identified locations that could have health improvement via the targeting of dental services to that location. Conclusion: The study identified potential location sites for dental clinics, to address the current inequity in accessing dental services in rural and remote Australia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-44
    JournalHealth Information Management Journal
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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