Health Policy

Primary Care Providers and Practice Locations: Examining the Relationships

McKernan, S.C.; Kuthy, R.A.; Joshi, A.
2012 May



The authors conducted a study in which they explored the geographical distributions of primary care dentists, physicians and pharmacists to determine if a spatial pattern existed between provider types across cities in Iowa.


The authors analyzed practice locations of primary care providers, including dentists, pharmacists and physicians, at the city and county levels in Iowa for 2000 and 2010. They categorized cities on the basis of types of primary care providers in each city and compared population characteristics.


Among cities with primary care providers of any type, the most common scenario was for all three provider types to be found together. Several cities that had at least one physician and pharmacist but no dentist in 2000 gained one by 2010.


There appears to be a heterarchy of primary care providers in Iowa cities, with pharmacists more prevalent than physicians and dentists.


Communities with at least one physician and pharmacist but no dentist may be able to offer new or relocating dentists a competitive opportunity for practice.