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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Effects of geodemographic profiles on healthcare service utilization: a case study on cardiac care in Ontario, Canada

Li Tao1, Jiming Liu1* and Bo Xiao2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Computer Science, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong

2 Information Technology Management Department, Shidler College of Business, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, United States of America

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:239  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-239

Published: 1 July 2013



Although literature has associated geodemographic factors with healthcare service utilization, little is known about how these factors — such as population size, age profile, service accessibility, and educational profile — interact to influence service utilization. This study fills this gap in the literature by examining both the direct and the moderating effects of geodemographic profiles on the utilization of cardiac surgery services.


We aggregated secondary data obtained from Statistics Canada and Cardiac Care Network of Ontario to derive the geodemographic profiles of Ontario and the corresponding cardiac surgery service utilization in the years between 2004 and 2007. We conducted a two-step test using Partial Least Squares-based structural equation modeling to investigate the relationships between geodemographic profiles and healthcare service utilization.


Population size and age profile have direct positive effects on service utilization (β = 0.737, p < 0.01; β = 0.284, p < 0.01, respectively), whereas service accessibility is negatively associated with service utilization (β = -0.210, p < 0.01). Service accessibility decreases the effect of population size on service utilization (β = -0.606, p < 0.01), and educational profile weakens the effects of population size and age profile on service utilization (β = -0.595, p < 0.01; β = -0.286, p < 0.01, respectively).


In this study, we found that (1) service accessibility has a moderating effect on the relationship between population size and service utilization, and (2) educational profile has moderating effects on both the relationship between population size and service utilization, and the relationship between age profile and service utilization. Our findings suggest that reducing regional disparities in healthcare service utilization should take into account the interaction of geodemographic factors such as service accessibility and education. In addition, the allocation of resources for a particular healthcare service in one area should consider the geographic distribution of the same services in neighboring areas, as patients may be willing to utilize these services in areas not far from where they reside.