Importance: Many patients do not receive recommended services. Drive time to health care services may affect receipt of guideline-recommended care, but this has not been comprehensively studied. Objective: To assess associations between drive time to care and receipt of guideline-recommended screening, diagnosis, and treatment interventions. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study used administrative data from the National Veterans Health Administration (VA) data merged with Medicare data. Eligible participants were patients using VA services between January 2016 and December 2019. Women ages 65 years or older without underlying bone disease were assessed for osteoporosis screening. Patients with new diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) indicated by at least 2 encounter codes for COPD or at least 1 COPD-related hospitalization were assessed for receipt of diagnostic spirometry. Patients hospitalized for ischemic heart disease were assessed for cardiac rehabilitation treatment. Exposures: Drive time from each patient's residential address to the closest VA facility where the service was available, measured using geocoded addresses. Main Outcomes and Measures: Binary outcome at the patient level for receipt of osteoporosis screening, spirometry, and cardiac rehabilitation. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess associations between drive time and receipt of services. Results: Of 110780 eligible women analyzed, 36431 (32.9%) had osteoporosis screening (mean [SD] age, 66.7 [5.4] years; 19422 [17.5%] Black, 63403 [57.2%] White). Of 281130 patients with new COPD diagnosis, 145249 (51.7%) had spirometry (mean [SD] age, 68.2 [11.5] years; 268999 [95.7%] men; 37834 [13.5%] Black, 217608 [77.4%] White). Of 73146 patients hospitalized for ischemic heart disease, 11171 (15.3%) had cardiac rehabilitation (mean [SD] age, 70.0 [10.8] years; 71217 [97.4%] men; 15213 [20.8%] Black, 52144 [71.3%] White). The odds of receiving recommended services declined as drive times increased. Compared with patients with a drive time of 30 minutes or less, patients with a drive time of 61 to 90 minutes had lower odds of receiving osteoporosis screening (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.90; 95% CI, 0.86-0.95) and spirometry (aOR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.88-0.92) while patients with a drive time of 91 to 120 minutes had lower odds of receiving cardiac rehabilitation (aOR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.74-0.87). Results were similar in analyses restricted to urban patients or patients whose primary care clinic was in a tertiary care center. Conclusions and Relevance: In this retrospective cohort study, longer drive time was associated with less frequent receipt of guideline-recommended services across multiple components of care. To improve quality of care and health outcomes, health systems and clinicians should adopt strategies to mitigate travel burden, even for urban patients..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2240290
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 4 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'Drive Time and Receipt of Guideline-Recommended Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this