Format of Original
Journal of Public Health Dentistry
Original Item ID
Objectives: Prior studies document increased numbers of nontraumatic dental condition (NTDC) visits to U.S. emergency departments (EDs). However, the influence of travel distance on ED use for NTDCs, particularly for Medicaid enrollees has hitherto received little attention. The authors examined the effect of travel distance on Wisconsin Medicaid enrollees’ NTDC visits to EDs after adjustment for covariates.
Methods: NTDC-related visits claims data for Wisconsin Medicaid (2001-2009) was analyzed. For each enrollee, travel distance to the nearest of 130 EDs in Wisconsin was determined. The number of NTDC visits per person-year was aggregated by ZIP+4 of residence. Negative binomial regression adjusting for the expected number of visits based on race, sex, age of the residents and calendar year was used to evaluate the effect of travel distance, urbanicity, and dentist-population ratio on rate of visits.
Results: Enrollees residing in rural counties, entire dental health professional shortage areas, areas with dentist population ratios >20,000: 1 and non-Hispanic Whites travelled the furthest, compared to nearest mean ED distance of 2.9 miles. Enrollees residing 3 miles away or further had significantly lower rates of NTDC visits to EDs.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that distance is a barrier to making NTDC-related visits to EDs. Rates of NTDC visits decreased as travel distance to the nearest ED increased for Medicaid enrollees.