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Staiger DO, Marshall SM, Goodman DC, Auerbach DI, Buerhaus PI. Association Between Having a Highly Educated Spouse and Physician Practice in Rural Underserved Areas. JAMA. 2016;315(9):939–941. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.16972
Physician undersupply in rural areas remains a problem, despite efforts to improve the workforce distribution.1 Rural origin, age, and sex have been linked to physician choice of rural settings.2 An additional factor may be that many physicians have highly educated spouses with independent careers, which may constrain their ability to locate in rural areas.3 We investigated the prevalence of physicians with highly educated spouses and whether having such a spouse was associated with working in rural underserved areas.
The Dartmouth institutional review board determined that the study did not involve human participants. We studied a 1% sample of all employed physicians aged 25 to 70 years working in the United States every 10 years from 1960 to 2000 (n = 19 668) obtained from the Decennial Census, and every year from 2005 to 2011 (n = 55 381) from the American Community Survey.4 Both surveys used comparable questions, included all household members, and had response rates of more than 95%. We identified spouses reporting 6 or more years of college (before 1990) or a master’s degree or higher (1990 and later).
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