Population Access to Hospital Emergency Departments: The Spatial Analysis in Public Health Research

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jan 27;19(3):1437. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19031437.


The emergency medical services support the primary health care system. Hospital emergency departments (HEDs), which provide medical assistance to all patients in a state of emergency are of considerable importance to the system. When studying access to HEDs, attention should be focused on spatial relations resulting from the location of HEDs and the places of residence of the potential patients. The aim of the paper is to explain the level of spatial accessibility of HEDs and its changes as a result of organizational and spatial transformations of HEDs' networks in Poland. The research was conducted within two time series, comparing the changes in the distribution of HEDs in 2011 and 2021. GIS techniques were used to measure the distances between emergency departments and places of residence. It was observed that the transformation of the spatial organization of the hospital emergency department network in 2011-2021 resulted in the overall improvement of the spatial accessibility of these facilities, reducing the distance between them and places of residence.

Keywords: access to health care; health care services; hospital emergency departments; public health management; spatial analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Public Health*
  • Spatial Analysis