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Geographic disparities in the distribution of the U.S. gynecologic oncology workforce: A Society of Gynecologic Oncology study.


A recent ASCO workforce study projects a significant shortage of oncologists in the U.S. by 2020, especially in rural/underserved (R/US) areas. The current study aim was to determine the patterns of distribution of U.S. gynecologic oncologists (GO) and to identify provider-based attitudes and barriers that may prevent GOs from practicing in R/US regions. U.S. GOs (n = 743) were electronically solicited to participate in an on-line survey regarding geographic distribution and participation in outreach care. A total of 320 GOs (43%) responded; median age range was 35-45 years and 57% were male. Most practiced in an urban setting (72%) at a university hospital (43%). Only 13% of GOs practiced in an area with a population < 50,000. A desire to remain in academics and exposure to senior-level mentorship were the factors most influencing initial practice location. Approximately 50% believed geographic disparities exist in GO workforce distribution that pose access barriers to care; however, 39% "strongly agreed" that cancer patients who live in R/US regions should travel to urban cancer centers to receive care within a center of excellence model. GOs who practice within 50 miles of only 0-5 other GOs were more likely to provide R/US care compared to those practicing within 50 miles of ≥ 10 GOs (p < 0.0001). Most (39%) believed the major barriers to providing cancer care in R/US areas were volume and systems-based. Most also believed the best solution was a hybrid approach, with coordination of local and centralized cancer care services. Among GOs, a self-reported rural-urban disparity exists in the density of gynecologic oncologists. These study findings may help address barriers to providing cancer care in R/US practice environments.

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