Racial disparities in travel time to radiotherapy facilities in the Atlanta metropolitan area
Low-income women with breast cancer who rely on public transportation may have difficulty in completing recommended radiation therapy due to inadequate access to radiation facilities. Using a geographic information system (GIS) and network analysis we quantified spatial accessibility to radiation treatment facilities in the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area. We built a transportation network model that included all bus and rail routes and stops, system transfers and walk and wait times experienced by public transportation system travelers. We also built a private transportation network to model travel times by automobile. We calculated travel times to radiation therapy facilities via public and private transportation from a population-weighted center of each census tract located within the study area. We broadly grouped the tracts by low, medium and high household access to a private vehicle and by race. Facility service areas were created using the network model to map the extent of areal coverage at specified travel times (30, 45 and 60 min) for both public and private modes of transportation. The median public transportation travel time to the nearest radiotherapy facility was 56 min vs. approximately 8 min by private vehicle. We found that majority black census tracts had longer public transportation travel times than white tracts across all categories of vehicle access and that 39% of women in the study area had longer than 1 h of public transportation travel time to the nearest facility. In addition, service area analyses identified locations where the travel time barriers are the greatest. Spatial inaccessibility, especially for women who must use public transportation, is one of the barriers they face in receiving optimal treatment.
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