Lack of reliable transportation can prevent patients from making it to medical appointments or accessing other health care services.
In a recently published paper, lead author Eli Solomon ’20 explored and analyzed existing research on nonemergency medical transportation interventions. The article, titled “Impact of Transportation Interventions on Health Care Outcomes: A Systematic Review,” was published in the American Public Health Association journal Medical Care.
Solomon, a neuroscience and behavior major on a pre-med path, wrote the paper based on research he conducted in summer 2018 with peers at the University of California, San Francisco. While at UCSF, Solomon worked for San Francisco General Hospital, tackling social determinants of health with patients in the pediatric primary care clinic.
Solomon and his mentors searched three databases (Embase, PubMed, and Google) for studies of health care sector-sponsored programs that provided patients with assistance with nonemergency transportation, and directly assessed the impact of transportation assistance on health and health care utilization outcomes. Studies meeting inclusion criteria were graded for quality using standard grading criteria.
Eight studies met all inclusion criteria, although most were rated as low-quality, they found. All studies included examined process or health care utilization outcomes, such as uptake of transportation services, return for follow-up, or missed appointment rates; only one included health outcomes, such as illness severity and blood pressure. The results were mixed. More rigorous studies showed low patient uptake of transportation services, and inconsistent impacts on health and utilization outcomes.
“Despite considerable interest in subsidizing transportation services to improve health for patients facing transportation barriers, little rigorously conducted research has demonstrated the impact of transportation services on health or health care utilization,” Solomon explained. “Some extant literature suggests that transportation assistance is more likely to be effective when offered with other interventions to reduce social and economic barriers to health.”
At Wesleyan, Solomon focuses his research interests on social medicine and public health. His advisor is Helen Treloar, associate professor of the practice in neuroscience and behavior.