Driving to Childhood Cancer Hub Hospitals: A Study on Hospital Accessibility in Japan

Document Type : Research Articles


Department of Mathematical Health Science, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Suita, Japan.


Objective: In 2013, 15 childhood cancer hub hospitals in Japan were designated to provide quality medical treatment and care. The present study assessed hospital accessibility by investigating travel times and distances from patient residences. Methods: A total of 37,309 residence/hospital pairs were generated using the addresses of 15 hub hospitals that were designated in 2019 and local government offices in 2014. Using the Google Directions Application Programming Interface (API), travel times and distances were calculated on the assumption that each patient would arrive by driving to the hospitals by 10 am on Wednesday, November 6, 2019. Thus, after identifying the nearest hospital for each residence and deriving adjusted estimated travel times (AETT), the data were summarized according to the regional block using weighted population descriptive statistics for children under 15 years of age in 2015. The cumulative distribution functions of the weighted mean of AETT were also plotted. Results: Childhood cancer patients could access the nearest hub hospital by traveling approximately 1.78 hours (AETT, range: 0.1 to 41.8) and 91.86 km (range: 1.0 to 1438.0). Moreover, a total of 94.5% of patients had the nearest hub hospital within their own regional block. The cumulative distribution functions of AETT indicated that many children in three blocks with multiple hub hospitals have shorter travel times and better hospital accessibility than those in other blocks. Conclusions: Although feasibility is ultimately dependent on each patient’s condition and situation, child cancer patients on average can likely complete hospital visits from home and return within a single day. However, this is likely not the case for children who live at considerable distances from hub hospitals. We found regional differences in travel times and distances, depending on whether a given block contained multiple hub hospitals.


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