Patients in rural America more likely to have hip and knee replacement surgery

18th May 2011

A study completed in America has shown that patients living in rural areas of the country are more likely to undergo hip and knee replacement surgery than those living in more urban areas.

Results showed that people living in rural areas underwent these types of surgery 15 per cent more than their urban-dwelling counterparts.

More than 46 million Medicare patients were surveyed for the study, which was conducted at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso.

It challenges traditional views that people living in more rural areas had less access to medical services than those in towns and cities.

Lead author Dr Mark Francis said: "When I first saw the result, I looked at it and said maybe I got it backwards."

He added that the results could indicate that rural patients were getting poorly more often, they were having surgery they did not need, or they were putting off travelling long distances for treatment until the conditions was severe enough to require surgery.

A study completed in the 1990s in the UK showed that healthcare over the years had generally tended to be more accessible in urban areas, but that health was better in the countryside.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Francis, Mark. "Rural-Urban Differences in Surgical Procedures for Medicare Beneficiaries." May 2011. Archives of Surgery.
Watt, I S. " Health and health care of rural populations in the UK: is it better or worse?" Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 1994.

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