Purpose: With the increased availability of colonoscopy to average risk persons due to insurance coverage benefit changes, we sought to identify changes in the colonoscopy workforce. We used outpatient discharge records from South Carolina between 2001 and 2010 to examine shifts over time and in urban versus rural areas in the types of medical providers who perform colonoscopy, and the practice settings in which they occur, and to explore variation in colonoscopy volume across facility and provider types. Methods: Using an all-payer outpatient discharge records database from South Carolina, we conducted a retrospective analysis of all colonoscopy procedures performed between 2001 and 2010. Findings: We identified a major shift in the type of facilities performing colonoscopy in South Carolina since 2001, with substantial gains in ambulatory surgery settings (2001: 15, 2010: 34, +127%) versus hospitals (2001: 58, 2010: 59, +2%), particularly in urban areas (2001: 12, 2010: 27, +125%). The number of internists (2001: 46, 2010: 76) and family physicians (2001: 34, 2010: 106) performing colonoscopies also increased (+65% and +212%, respectively), while their annual procedures volumes stayed fairly constant. Significant variation in annual colonoscopy volume was observed across medical specialties (P <.001), with nongastroenterologists having lower volumes versus gastroenterologists and colon and rectal surgeons. Conclusions: There have been substantial changes over time in the number of facilities and physicians performing colonoscopy in South Carolina since 2001, particularly in urban counties. Findings suggest nongastroenterologists are meeting a need for colonoscopies in rural areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-147
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • ambulatory care
  • family medicine
  • health services research
  • hospitals
  • physician supply


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