Research Finds Association Between Global Health Experiences, Practice in U.S. Underserved Areas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, September 11, 2014

Contact: 
Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224
lchampli@aafp.org

WASHINGTON — Family medicine residents who participate in a global health track or global health experience during their training are more likely to practice in underserved areas, according to research in the September Journal of Graduate Medical Education.

The research, “Impact of Global Health Experiences During Residency on Graduate Practice Location: A Multistate Cohort Study” by former Robert Graham Center fellow Winston Liaw, MD, found an association between global health experiences and practice location choices among family medicine residents.

Liaw and his coauthors came to their conclusion after comparing residents’ global health experience with their subsequent practice locations in U.S. health professions shortage areas, medically underserved areas or populations, rural areas, areas of dense poverty. They found nearly 68 percent of those who had global health experience established medical practices in any area of underservice. Of those, 64 percent practice in areas of dense poverty, where more than 20 percent of households earned less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. 

The authors also found that those graduating after track implementation were more likely to practice in any type of underserved area compared to those graduating prior to implementation, suggesting that starting the track affected all graduates and not just those that participated in the track. 

According to Liaw, these findings have implications for workforce policy and future research. “As the number of global health tracks grows, we think that continuing to evaluate their impact will be important. Our findings suggest that global health experiences not only affect knowledge and attitudes but may also influence career paths. As primary care struggles to provide adequate access, these tracks may play an important role in helping to recruit more providers to underserved settings.”

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About the Robert Graham Center

The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care works to improve individual and population health by enhancing the delivery of primary care. The Center staff generates and analyzes evidence that brings a family medicine and primary care perspective to health policy deliberations at local, state, and national levels.

Founded in 1999, the Robert Graham Center is an independent research unit affiliated with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The information and opinions contained in research from the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the AAFP.