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Variable Definitions:
Pharmacies: The number of pharmacies in a given area

Google Maps API

Years Available:

Methodology Note:

The original data comes at the point level. Our team spatial joined each point to 2020 Census Tracts based on Google Maps provided coordinates. Businesses are filtered based on having a “currently operational” status and being tagged as a “pharmacy” on Google Maps.

Why are these variables important to measure?

The total number of pharmacies in a given area carries many implications about an area’s access and effectiveness of healthcare services. According to several studies, pharmacy deserts – areas with limited number of proximal pharmacies – are found to have higher rates of chronic disease and poorer medication adherence. These studies attribute health outcomes to various factors including poor continuity of care, access to public transportation services, and longer travel time to access services.

Furthermore, these studies point to lower-income and higher-minority populations as more likely to live in pharmacy deserts, meaning that access to reliable pharmacies is not only a public health issue, but also a socioeconomic and race equity issue. By tracking the availability and accessibility of essential health care services, this measure can support the assessment of underlying causes of disparities and shed light on how improved access to pharmacies can benefit to other disparities associated with race, ethnicity, income, or geographic location. 

Written by Kyra Chan


Wisseh, Hildreth, K., Marshall, J., Tanner, A., Bazargan, M., & Robinson, P. (2021). Social Determinants of Pharmacy Deserts in Los Angeles County. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 8(6), 1424–1434. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40615-020-00904-6

Adinkrah, Bazargan, M., Wisseh, C., & Assari, S. (2020). Adherence to hypertension medications and lifestyle recommendations among underserved African American middle-aged and older adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(18), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186538

Ying, Kahn, P., & Mathis, W. S. (2022). Pharmacy deserts: More than where pharmacies are. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 62(6), 1875–1879. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japh.2022.06.016

Guadamuz, Alexander, G. C., Zenk, S. N., Kanter, G. P., Wilder, J. R., & Qato, D. M. (2021). Access to pharmacies and pharmacy services in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston, 2015-2020. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 61(6), e32–e41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japh.2021.07.009

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