Self reported patterns of health service utilization: an urban-rural comparison in South Australia

South Australian Centre for Rural and Remote Health, Adelaide University, Whyalla, South Australia.
Australian Journal of Rural Health (Impact Factor: 1.55). 04/2003; 11:81-88. DOI: 10.1046/j.1440-1584.2003.00493.x

ABSTRACT To compare self-reported patterns of health service utilisation among residents of urban and rural South Australia. DESIGN, SETTING AND MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Secondary analysis of data generated by computer-assisted telephone interviews of 7377 adults done in 1995-6. Respondents were asked if they had used each of 18 different health services during the previous 12 months. Residence was classified in three ways: (1) capital city versus rest of the state, (2) by the Rural, Remote and Metropolitan Areas classification (RRMA) and (3) by the Accessibility and Remoteness Index for Australia classification (ARIA).
General practitioner services were most frequently used, by approximately 89% of respondents. Only 4% reported not using any service. Comparing capital city with rest of the state, modest but statistically significant differences in utilisation (P < 0.01) were measured for nine services. In eight of these nine, utilisation was higher among rural residents. Analysing by RRMA, eight services were reportedly used differently and seven of these were the same as those identified from the capital city versus rest of state comparison. Across the five ARIA categories, six previously identified services were reported as being used differentially. Overall, rural residents had a higher than expected rate of moderate and high level of health service use.
Self-reported use of a range of health services was broadly similar across urban and rural South Australia, with most cases of higher use were reported from rural areas rather than urban areas. Similar results were obtained when residence was classified in the three different ways.

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