International journal of health geographics 2017 12 0116(1) 44 doi 10.1186/s12942-017-0116-6
Health care accessibility is known to differ geographically. With this study we focused on analysing accessibility of general and specialized obstetric units in England and Germany with regard to urbanity, area deprivation and neonatal outcome using routine data.
We used a floating catchment area method to measure obstetric care accessibility, the degree of urbanization (DEGURBA) to measure urbanity and the index of multiple deprivation to measure area deprivation.
Accessibility of general obstetric units was significantly higher in Germany compared to England (accessibility index of 16.2 vs. 11.6; p < 0.001), whereas accessibility of specialized obstetric units was higher in England (accessibility index for highest level of care of 0.235 vs. 0.002; p < 0.001). We further demonstrated higher obstetric accessibility for people living in less deprived areas in Germany (r = - 0.31; p < 0.001) whereas no correlation was present in England. There were also urban-rural disparities present, with higher accessibility in urban areas in both countries (r = 0.37-0.39; p < 0.001). The analysis did not show that accessibility affected neonatal outcomes. Finally, our computer generated model for obstetric care provider demand in terms of birth counts showed a very strong correlation with actual birth counts at obstetric units (r = 0.91-0.95; p < 0.001). CONCLUSION
In Germany the focus of obstetric care seemed to be put on general obstetric units leading to higher accessibility compared to England. Regarding specialized obstetric care the focus in Germany was put on high level units whereas in England obstetric care seems to be more balanced between the different levels of care with larger units on average leading to higher accessibility.