Geography Geography of Health Care
Mark Rosenberg
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0174


Health care is a process that can be viewed from the perspective of the individual, in aggregate (i.e., the health care of a particular group within a population or the whole population), from the perspective of the services provided (e.g., primary care, hospital care, long-term care, etc.), or as a system. Medical and health geography takes all of these perspectives into account. Medical and health geographers focus on concepts such as accessibility, utilization, equality, equity, and efficiency in analyzing health care. Health care also needs to be seen from the perspective of its contributions to the communities where it is located as an employer, a generator of employment both directly and indirectly to the delivery of services and as part of place identity.

General Overviews

Overviews of how medical and health geographers see health care and the various perspectives and concepts can be found in the best-known texts in medical and health geography (Anthamatten and Hazen 2011; Brown, et al. 2010; Curtis and Taket 1996; Emch, et al. 2017; Gatrell and Elliot 2015) and in reviews papers on health and medical geography (Andrews and Evans 2008).

  • Andrews, Gavin J., and Josh Evans. “Understanding the Reproduction of Health Care: Towards Geographies in Health Care Work.” Progress in Human Geography 32 (2008): 759–780.

    DOI: 10.1177/0309132508089826

    Andrews and Evans focus on the “new” health care, which they argue emphasizes issues such as settings outside of the hospital and in the community, restructuring, technology, and the changing nature of practice.

  • Anthamatten, Peter, and Helen Hazen. An Introduction to the Geography of Health. London: Routledge, 2011.

    Section 2 is devoted to social approaches to health and health care. As part of that section, Chapter 8 (“Geographies of Healthcare”) covers the key themes of health care as they are organized in this bibliography.

  • Brown, Tim, Sara McLafferty, and Graham Moon, eds. A Companion to Health and Medical Geography. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

    Part V covers providing health care, access, location-allocation planning, the changing geography of care and complementary and alternative medicine in five chapters.

  • Curtis, Sarah, and Ann Taket. Health & Societies: Changing Perspectives. London: Arnold, 1996.

    In their discussion of health care, Curtis and Taket take a systems approach, examining health care as national systems (chapter 5) and local systems (chapter 6).

  • Emch, Michael, Elisabeth Dowling Root, and Margaret Carel. Health and Medical Geography. 4th ed. New York: Guilford, 2017.

    Chapter 13 focuses on three themes of health care (access; cultural alternatives, and perception) and the transformation of the health service landscape.

  • Gatrell, Anthony, and Susan Elliot. Geographies of Health: An Introduction. 3d ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.

    Chapters 7 and 8 cover health-care systems and inequalities in utilization, respectively.

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