Geographic distribution of health care (GeoHealth) - Regional differences in demand and supply, costs and quality.

The overarching aim of the project is to estimate causal effects of travel distances to health care services on utilization, costs and quality. This will help facilitate the design of efficient policy measures ensuring qualified health care personnel throughout the country and thus help endorse similar regional access to high-quality health care across the population; and to obtain novel knowledge on causes and consequences of travel distance to health care.

Project details

Project manager
Ingrid Huitfeldt
Project participants

The user group is comprised of experienced health care personnel at various levels in different geographic locations in Norway. The user group includes (in alphabetical order):


Norges Forskningsråd (HELSEVEL)

Project term
Project status
Research field

About the Project

Substantial regional differences exist in the utilization of health care within OECD countries, but knowledge remains scarce on the causes and consequences thereof. Understanding mechanisms behind the regional differences is crucial to enable the construction of efficient policies to meet the surging needs of an aging, multicultural and relatively decentralized Norwegian population.

We will provide policy relevant knowledge on effects of travel distances on regional distribution of health care personnel, on regional utilization of health care (primary and specialist) and on possible regional variation in indicators of patient recovery. Since travel distance and consequences thereof can be affected by policy, perhaps most easily by the geographic location of health care services, our suggested analyses will be directly relevant for policy design. Indeed, securing qualified personnel, and knowledge on what makes them allocate rurally, may be one of the most important challenges in meeting the expected surge in health care needs of aging OECD-populations.

We will combine several population-wide, individual-level data registers to undertake these novel analyses. Using the exact geographic location of the home of all Norwegian residents and health care providers (hospital, office of one's general practitioner, etc.), we calculate travel distance between the locations. We also know everyone's education and where they work, and we have several (admittedly imperfect) indicators of health care utilization and health outcomes, by health care provider (consultations, hospitalizations, disability benefits, employment, mortality, etc.).

More specifically, we will use unique population-wide individual-level register data to

A) Describe elements of costs of health care related to geography, including future regional projections.

B) Estimate effects of costs related to travel distance from home to (and between) health care providers on demand for health care.

C) Estimate determinants of location of health care personnel, and estimate effects of indicators of care quality and location on indicators of patient recovery.



19-20 June 2017: Kick-off work shop with international experts and user group

Fall 2017: Simon Bensnes enters as researcher in the Project, and Rosanna Johed as phd-student

Summer 2018: Data are becoming available

20.-21. August 2018: Seminar with international experts  and user group