Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 4-2023





Examining Committee Member

Dr. Ricky Cox, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Ann Johnson, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Julie Boyd, Committee Member


There is a major physician shortage occurring across the United States as of 2023 and it is expected to get worse over the next five to ten years. A significant portion of the shortage is predicted to consist of primary care physicians in rural areas. Data on factors that affect primary care visits like rurality, household income, health insurance coverage, non-communicable disease, and primary care physician prevalence were analyzed from the regions of Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky. Health coverage was found to be average to above average in the two regions. However, almost all counties included in the study were found to be significantly rural, have lower than average median income, higher mortality rates of non-communicable disease, and severely low rates of primary care physicians. It was also found that a majority of the counties had either stagnant or decreasing rates of primary care physicians. 74.3% of the counties were found to have significantly lower primary care physician rates than the calculated absolute minimum rate of 60.7 primary care physicians per 100,000 people. In trends from data of medical school matriculant rates and residential program rates, it was found that the number of rural medical students going into primary care has dropped significantly in recent years. Based on the data trends of factors that impact primary care, it is clear that the state of primary care in Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky is worsening and requires significant intervention.

Included in

Primary Care Commons