Assessing the spatial accessibility of hospital care in Sichuan Province, China

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Jay Pan *
Huiran Liu
Xiuli Wang
Hongmei Xie
Paul L. Delamater
(*) Corresponding Author:
Jay Pan |


Regional disparities in geographical access to hospital care are found throughout China. Understanding variations in the spatial accessibility of hospital care has the potential to provide decision support in healthcare planning. This study examines the hospital system in the Sichuan Province in China, which provides healthcare for more than 80 million people. We examine the impacts of accessibility characterisation via the conventional measurement approach by comparing the results to those derived using a floating catchment area approach. Employing a geographical information system based on population and hospital administrative data, we conducted a provincewide study of the spatial accessibility of hospital care in Sichuan Province, China. A shortest-path analysis and the enhanced two-step floating catchment area (E2SFCA) method were implemented. Substantial differences between these two approaches were found, including a roughly 15% difference in the total number of under-served areas. Generally, spatial accessibility was higher in the eastern regions of Sichuan. More than 5.5 million people were found to have limited access, with large variations across the province. These results indicate that the official method used by policy makers in China may not capture the true nature of spatial accessibility throughout the region. We recommend that the E2SFCA method be implemented for health services research in China, providing decision makers with more accurate information when setting healthcare policies.

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