Distance from the Primary Health Center: a GIS method to study geographical access to health care

J Med Syst. 1995 Dec;19(6):425-36. doi: 10.1007/BF02260846.


Aerial distance from the dependent Primary Health Center is a crude but objective measure of geographical accessibility to Primary Health care facilities. This report describes a method for calculation of distances between the PHC and the population it serves using the data available from the local health authorities and the Swedish Central Statistical Bureau. The Swedish annual population registration records of 1991 and the property register available with the Central Statistical Bureau of Sweden formed the main data sources. By coupling the address in the population register to the property register each individual was mapped to the centroid of a property. The location of the PHCs as well as the areas covered by each were obtained from the local health authorities and mapped. By intersecting the population coverage with the PHC coverage the population for each PHC area was identified. Subsequently the distance to the PHC was calculated for each individual (property centroid). The population maps so generated can be linked to other databases to visualize and analyze the spatial dimension of health and disease. The methodology can be adapted for use with postal code districts, census enumeration tracts, or any other small area.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Catchment Area, Health*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Centers / supply & distribution*
  • Community Health Planning / methods*
  • Community Health Planning / statistics & numerical data
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Organizational
  • Sweden