Background and objectives: Much of rural Colorado has been designated a shortage area for primary care health personnel. The state's only medical school and its family practice residency programs are expected to address this long-standing problem. This study identified predictors of rural practice location and contrasted the service profiles of rural versus urban family physicians and general practitioners.
Methods: The Colorado Board of Medical Examiners mailed a questionnaire to all licensed Colorado physicians. Logistic regression analyses were conducted using variables determined to be significantly related to practice location (rural versus urban) by univariate statistical tests. Information from the 986 family physician and general practitioner respondents identified personal and educational variables strongly associated with choice of rural practice location and differentiated between practice tendencies of rural versus urban physicians.
Results: Having been raised in rural Colorado was the most powerful predictor of rural practice location in the state. Family physicians and general practitioners serving rural populations spent much more time weekly providing direct patient care and more often cared for Medicaid patients.
Conclusions: Personal characteristics and background may be useful considerations in selecting among applicants for medical schools and family practice residency programs committed to reducing the severe shortage of health care service in rural areas.