Korean J Prev Med.  1994 Sep;27(3):609-626.

An Analysis of Small Area Variations of Hospital Services Utilization in Korea

  • 1Depratment of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Korea.
  • 2Korea Institute of Health Service Management, Korea.


This study was conducted to investigate whether variations in hospital services utilization across small geographic areas in Korea existed, and if so, what factors are responsible for the variation. The claims data of the fiscal year 1992 obtained from the regional health insurance societies were used for the study. Main finding of the research can be summarized as follows: 1. External Quotients (EQ) of hospital expenditure per capita and hospital days per capita were 2.69 and 2.73, and coefficient of variation (CV) were 0.14,both, respectively. The EQ and the CV of admission rate were also 2.71, 0.15. The EQ and the CV of expenditure per admission were 1.73, 0.10 and those of hospital days per admission were 1.29, 0.06. All these statistics were statistically significant and this result provides strong evidence for the existence of small area variations. 2. Comparing patterns of variation among areas, the area which showed higher utilization amounts is cbansungp'o. Koje area, whereas the areas which showed lower utilization amounts are Yongju, Changhung, Miryang, Mokp'o, Koch'ang area. 3. Multivariate analytic methods were used to examine factors related to the variation across areas. In terms of the health resource availability variables, beds per capita or physicians per capita were positively associated with all utilization indices. As for the health service market structure variables, the proportion of health care institutions operating for less than 5 years was positively related to the expenditure per capita, hospital days per capita and expenditure per admission. In addition the proportion of lhe private health care institutions also had a negative relationship with total utilization amount and admission rate and the proportion of physicians under age 40 was negatively associated with expenditure per capita and expenditure per admission. With regard to the socio-demographic characteristics, proportion of medicaid population was positively related to hospital days per capita, and percentage of paved road was positively related to hospital days per admission. As a conclusion, wide variations existed across small areas in Korea and supply factors were found to be important in explaining the variation.


coefficient of variation; external quotient; hospital service; small area variation

MeSH Terms

Delivery of Health Care
Health Expenditures
Health Resources
Health Services
Insurance, Health
Small-Area Analysis
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