Variable catchment sizes for the two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) method

Health Place. 2012 Jul;18(4):789-95. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.04.002. Epub 2012 Apr 22.


Government efforts designed to help improve healthcare access rely on accurate measures of accessibility so that resources can be allocated to truly needy areas. In order to capture the interaction between physicians and populations, various access measures have been utilized, including the popular two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) method. However, despite the many advantages of 2SFCA, the problems associated with using fixed catchment sizes have not been satisfactorily addressed. We propose a new method to dynamically determine physician and population catchment sizes by incrementally increasing the catchment until a base population and a physician-to-population ratio are met. Preliminary application to the ten-county region in northern Illinois has demonstrated that the new method is effective in determining the appropriate catchment sizes across the urban to suburban/rural continuum and has revealed greater detail in spatial variation of accessibility compared to results using fixed catchment sizes.

MeSH terms

  • Catchment Area, Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Physicians / supply & distribution*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rural Population
  • Suburban Population
  • Urban Population