Primary care is often thought of as the gateway to improved health outcomes and can lead to more efficient use of health care resources. Because of primary care's cardinal importance, adequate access is an important health policy priority. In densely populated urban areas, spatial access to primary care providers across neighborhoods is poorly understood. We examined spatial variation in primary care access in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We calculated ratios of adults per primary care provider for each census tract and included buffer zones based on prespecified drive times around each tract. We found that the average ratio was 1,073; the supply of primary care providers varied widely across census tracts, ranging from 105 to 10,321. We identified six areas of Philadelphia that have much lower spatial accessibility to primary care relative to the rest of the city. After adjustment for sociodemographic and insurance characteristics, the odds of being in a low-access area were twenty-eight times greater for census tracts with a high proportion of African Americans than in tracts with a low proportion of African Americans.
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