Geographic access to health care services: The case of maintenance hemodialysis.



A longitudinal study of the system for delivering maintenance hemodialysis services in St Louis, Missouri was conducted to determine the significance of geographic access in the selection and continued utilization of a treatment facility. Historically, center hemodialysis patients in this metropolitan area received care at four centrally located facilities. In 1981, two new, independent facilities were constructed; a satellite of an existing unit was opened in 1983. The data obtained in this study demonstrated that end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients generally did not change their mode of maintenance therapy, their treatment facility, or the location of their personal residence. When such changes occurred, they were rarely precipitated by a desire to reduce travel time to treatment. Furthermore, the opportunity to improve geographic access by transferring to a closer unit was perceived by patients to be viable only if they could retain their physician. It was concluded, therefore, that travel time to treatment is a relatively unimportant aspect of the chronic care of center hemodialysis patients in a metropolitan area.


Health Management and Policy

Publication Date


Journal Title

American Journal of Kidney Diseases



Document Type