• Journal Article

The Small Area Predictors of Ambulatory Care Sensitive Hospitalizations: A Comparison of Changes over Time


Basu, J., Mobley, L., & Thumula, V. (2014). The Small Area Predictors of Ambulatory Care Sensitive Hospitalizations: A Comparison of Changes over Time. Social Work in Public Health, 29(2), 176-188. DOI: 10.1080/19371918.2013.776316


The hospital admission for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs) is a validated indicator of impeded access to good primary and preventive care services. The authors examine the predictors of ACSC admissions in small geographic areas in two cross-sections spanning an 11-year time interval (1995-2005). Using hospital discharge data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York for the years 1995 and 2005, the study includes a multivariate cross-sectional design, using compositional factors describing the hospitalized populations and the contextual factors, all aggregated at the primary care service area level. The study uses ordinary least squares regressions with and without state fixed effects, adjusting for heteroscedasticity. Data is pooled over 2 years to assess the statistically significant changes in associations over time. ACSC admission rates were inversely related to the availability of local primary care physicians, and managed care was associated with declines in ACSC admissions for the elderly. Minorities, aged elderly, and percent under federal poverty level were found to be associated with higher ACSC rates. The comparative analysis for 2 years highlights significant declines in the association with ACSC rates of several factors including percent minorities and rurality. The two policy-driven factors, primary care physician capacity and Medicare-managed care penetration, were not found significantly more effective over time. Using small area analysis, the study indicates that improvements in socioeconomic conditions and geographic access may have helped improve the quality of primary care received by the elderly over the last decade, particularly among some minority groups