Ensuring access to health care based on needs is to actually improve health rather than ability to pay, according to the World Health Report 2000 by the World Health Organization [1
]. Improvement of economy, healthcare environment and medical technology seems to satisfy the desire for a healthier life. However, as health is a personal attribute and sometimes determined socially, not all people have the benefits of health equally. To the extent that region influences the life chances of individuals, regional social and economic characteristics may be related to individual health [2
]. Unmet medical need refers to medical care necessities that are not satisfied. This includes cases in which the subject wants medical service, but does not receive such services. It also includes medical services that a medical professional judged necessary but which the subject does not received [3
]. Unmet medical need is sometimes used as an indicator of problems of access to medical services [4
]. Health disparities include differences between the most advantaged groups in a given category, not only between the best- and worst-off groups [5
A growing body of literature has been using unmet medical needs, a subjective survey measure, to find inequity in healthcare [6
]. Han et al. [7
] reported that the lower income level is closely related to unmet medical needs. Kim et al. [8
] reported that those residing outside the capital had a higher likelihood of experiencing unmet need. Craske et al. [9
] studied perceived unmet need among patients with panic disorder. However, these studies mainly analyzed specific age groups, and diseases. There is a lack of research, on the unmet medical needs and regional disparity using the nationwide data. Therefore, it is necessary to study the factors influencing unmet medical need, which has a critical impact on the accessibility and equity of healthcare utilization.
In the current issue of Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives
, a study aims to determine the factors affecting on unmet medical need, and the differences of regional unmet medical needs [10
The author utilized the data from the 6th (2015) Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) and 4,946 health survey respondents who included medical utilization and health behavior were selected as the subjects of this study. The author found that there was a statistically significant difference in the experience rate of unmet medical needs by region. The independent variables affecting unmet medical needs were sex, age, education, region, household income, insurance type, smoking status, self-reported health status, and stress awareness. Female, lower education level, rural residents, lowest household income, poor self-reported health status, and often stress awareness increase unmet medical need probability.
The author has suggested that different policy and approach should be considered for each risk population to address the basic cause of unmet medical need. This study needs to be followed by further research, including medical expenses with relevant variables.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.
1. Van der Stuyft P, Unger JP. Improving the performance of health systems: the World Health Report as go-between for scientific evidence and ideological discourse. Trop Med Int Health
2. Diez Roux AV. Investigating neighborhood and area effects on health. Am J Public Health 2001;91:1783–9.
3. Donabedian A. Aspects of medical care administration: specifying requirements for health care Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 1973. p. 800.
7. Han KT, Park EC, Kim SJ. Unmet healthcare needs and community health center utilization among the low-income population based on a nationwide community health survey. Health Policy
9. Craske MG, Edlund MJ, Sullivan G, et al. Perceived unmet need for mental health treatment and barriers to care among patients with panic disorder. Psychiatr Serv
10. Lim JH. Regional disparity and factors influencing unmet medical needs: a study based on the sixth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2015). Osong Public Health Res Perspect