Impact of geographic access to primary care providers on pediatric behavioral health screening

Navneet Upadhyay, Paul J. Rowan, Rajender R. Aparasu, Rajesh Balkrishnan, Marc L. Fleming, Abhishek A. Nair, Hua Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Behavioral Health (BH) screening is critical for early diagnosis and treatment of pediatric mental disorders. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of geographic access to primary care providers (PCP) on pediatric BH screening in children with different race/ethnicity. A retrospective cohort study was conducted using the 2013–2016 administrative claims data from a large pediatric Medicaid Managed Care Plan that have been linked to 2010 US Census data and the 2017 National Provider Identifier (NPI) Registry. Geographic access was defined as the actual travel distance to nearest PCP and the PCP density within 10-mile travel radius from each individual's residence. Stratified multivariate logistic regression was conducted to examine the association between the geographic access to PCP and the likelihood of receiving screening for behavioral disorders within each racial/ethnic group. BH screening rate was 12.6% among 402,655 children and adolescents who met the inclusion criteria. Multivariable analysis stratified by individual race/ethnicity revealed that Hispanic and Black children were more vulnerable to the geographic access barriers than their non-Hispanic White counterparts. The increase in travel distance to the nearest PCP was negatively associated with screening uptake only among Hispanics (10–20 miles vs. 0–10 miles: OR = 0.78, 95% CI [0.71–0.86]; 20–30 miles vs. 0–10 miles: OR = 0.35, 95% CI [0.23–0.54]). In a subgroup that had access to at least one PCP within 10 miles of travel distance, the variation in PCP density had a greater impact on the screening uptake among Hispanics and Blacks than that in non-Hispanic Whites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106856
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Behavioral health screening
  • Geographic access
  • Pediatrics
  • Primary care
  • Provider density
  • Travel distance


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