University of Oulu

Tiina Huotari, Harri Antikainen, Timo Keistinen, Jarmo Rusanen, Accessibility of tertiary hospitals in Finland: A comparison of administrative and normative catchment areas, Social Science & Medicine, Volume 182, 2017, Pages 60-67, ISSN 0277-9536,

Accessibility of tertiary hospitals in Finland : a comparison of administrative and normative catchment areas

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Author: Huotari, Tiina1; Antikainen, Harri1; Keistinen, Timo2;
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, FI-90014, Finland
2Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, PO Box 33, FI-00023, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-05-22


The determination of an appropriate catchment area for a hospital providing highly specialized (i.e. tertiary) health care is typically a trade-off between ensuring adequate client volumes and maintaining reasonable accessibility for all potential clients. This may pose considerable challenges, especially in sparsely inhabited regions. In Finland, tertiary health care is concentrated in five university hospitals, which provide services in their dedicated catchment areas. This study utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS), together with grid-based population data and travel-time estimates, to assess the spatial accessibility of these hospitals. The current geographical configuration of the hospitals is compared to a normative assignment, with and without capacity constraints. The aim is to define optimal catchment areas for tertiary hospitals so that their spatial accessibility is as equal as possible. The results indicate that relatively modest improvements can be achieved in accessibility by using normative assignment to determine catchment areas.

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Series: Social science & medicine
ISSN: 0277-9536
ISSN-E: 1873-5347
ISSN-L: 0277-9536
Volume: 182
Pages: 60 - 67
DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.04.015
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 520 Other social sciences
Funding: This work was supported by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland; the University of Oulu Graduate School; and the Research Council for Health of the Academy of Finland [grant number 267995].
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 267995
Detailed Information: 267995 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2017. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license