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May 7, 1982

Where Have All the Doctors Gone?

JAMA. 1982;247(17):2392-2396. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320420042030

As the supply of physicians grew during the 1970s, medical and surgical specialists diffused into smaller communities. In 1979, nearly every town with a population of more than 2,500 had ready access to a physician. The overall pattern of physician distribution was quite similar in the four disparate geographic regions chosen for study. The data strongly suggest that competitive forces play a major role in determining where physicians choose to practice. As the pool of physicians expands during the 1980s, a wide range of services will become increasingly available to populations outside metropolitan areas. The methods developed here provide an important tool for evaluating and shaping health manpower policy.

(JAMA 1982;247:2392-2396)