A fundamental pillar of our work for AHEAD is our research at country level and in specific medical desert areas, to understand the different manifestations of medical deserts.
While the AHEAD project countries (Italy, Moldova, the Netherlands, Romania and Serbia) share a common challenge of medical deserts (i.e. regions where access to health care for population groups is compromised), their magnitude, nature and impact differ vastly. Moreover, the underlying root causes of these medical deserts are different and have to be addressed at the appropriate (policy) levels. It is important to understand common elements as well as differences; without that understanding, it is not possible to develop effective policy solutions.
The methodology for our country research work included the following elements:
- literature review on medical deserts and similar terms (overall and country-specific)
- collection and analysis of quantitative indicators in relation to medical deserts (visualized per country in the Medical Deserts Diagnostics Tool (MDDT) maps)
- key informant interviews in the countries
- a survey
- a media analysis
In the course of the research process, country teams selected 1 to 3 medical desert case study areas, where more in-depth research has been carried out, a well as focus groups discussions. The results of the case study area research are also reflected in the country reports.