Substantial Disparities Seen in Travel Time to Pulmonary Rehabilitation

An estimated 14 million U.S. adults in rural areas have more than a one-hour drive
Substantial Disparities Seen in Travel Time to Pulmonary Rehabilitation
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TUESDAY, Feb. 13, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- There are substantial geographic disparities in access to pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) programs across the United States, according to a research letter published online Feb. 5 in JAMA Network Open.

Peter A. Kahn, M.D., and Walter S. Mathis, M.D., both from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, sought to understand nationwide travel time to PR programs as a marker for PR access. PR locations were determined from, and travel times were computed from the center of every census block to the 25 closest PR sites for all U.S. continental states and Washington, D.C.

The researchers found that densely populated urban areas and major cities offered the shortest travel times, with approximately 47.8 percent of the total U.S. population living within a 15-minute drive of a PR program. An additional 32.5 percent of the population is included by expanding this threshold to a 30-minute drive, primarily driven by residents in suburban areas surrounding these urban centers. Access was limited for individuals living in rural and sparsely populated regions, with as many as 14 million people having more than a one-hour drive to reach the nearest PR program.

"By focusing on travel times instead of geodesic distance, our findings offer a more realistic depiction of the challenges faced by many individuals, particularly those in rural and sparsely populated regions and minoritized racial and ethnic groups," the authors write.

One author disclosed ties to the biopharmaceutical and medical device industries.

Abstract/Full Text

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