Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Homeless adults have significant unmet health care needs, study finds

Date:
May 23, 2010
Source:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Summary:
The vast majority of homeless adults surveyed in a national study had trouble accessing at least one type of needed health care service in the preceding year, according to new research that may be the first broad-based national study of factors related to unmet health needs among homeless people.

The vast majority of homeless adults surveyed in a national study had trouble accessing at least one type of needed health care service in the preceding year, according to a study that will appear in the American Journal of Public Health and is now available online. The report from investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program may be the first broad-based national study of factors related to unmet health needs among homeless people.

Related Articles


"Our study documents the substantial inability of homeless people to get the health care they need," says Travis Baggett, MD, of the MGH Department of Medicine, the study's lead author. "Almost three-quarters of respondents had at least one type of unmet health care need. Rates for specific services were six to ten times higher than those seen in the general population, and being uninsured was a consistent predictor of the inability to get needed care."

The researchers analyzed data from the 2003 Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) User Survey, which interviewed patients seen at 79 clinics nationwide that receive funding through the Federal HCH Program, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Almost 970 homeless adults who had received services at HCH-funded sites were interviewed about a range of topics, including whether they had trouble accessing five types of health services in the preceding year -- medical or surgical care, prescription medications, mental health care, eyeglasses and dental care.

While 73 percent of respondents reported at least one unmet health need, 49 percent reported two or more unmet needs. The breakdown regarding inability to access particular types of care was 32 percent for medical or surgical care, 36 percent for prescription medications, 21 percent for mental health care, 41 percent for eyeglasses, and 41 percent for dental care. The most frequently cited reasons were the inability to afford needed care and lack of health insurance. The researchers note that, since all study participants had received some services at an HCH-funded site during the previous year, their results may under-represent the overall level of unmet health needs among homeless people.

Other factors associated with difficulty accessing needed care were lack of adequate food, a history of being in foster care as a child and vision problems. Respondents who reported having worked during the prior year actually had more trouble accessing services than those who had not worked.

"Our findings related to employment were particularly interesting," Baggett explains. "Homeless people who worked were more likely to be uninsured, and the more someone worked, the less likely they were to have health insurance. Independent of differences in insurance, homeless workers reported more difficulty getting needed medical care and prescription medications. This confirms our clinical observation that homeless people who work must often place higher priority on going to work than on receiving any health care they may need."

A fellow in General Medicine at MGH and Harvard Medical School, Baggett also is a clinician at the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, an independent non-profit organization. He notes that efforts to improve health care access for homeless people need to address their unique needs. "Health services compatible with work schedules and co-located with food and shelter services may help mitigate the challenges faced by homeless patients. Future studies should assess the effects of novel health care delivery strategies that address the barriers homeless people face in accessing needed care."

Co-authors of the American Journal of Public Health article -- all from the MGH Department of Medicine -- are senior author Nancy Rigotti, MD, Daniel Singer, MD, and James O'Connell, MD, who is also president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. The study was supported by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. P. Baggett, J. J. O'Connell, D. E. Singer, N. A. Rigotti. The Unmet Health Care Needs of Homeless Adults: A National Study. American Journal of Public Health, 2010; DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.180109

Cite This Page:

Massachusetts General Hospital. "Homeless adults have significant unmet health care needs, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514151924.htm>.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2010, May 23). Homeless adults have significant unmet health care needs, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514151924.htm
Massachusetts General Hospital. "Homeless adults have significant unmet health care needs, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514151924.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Following the closure of schools and universities in Guinea because of the Ebola virus, students look for temporary work or gather in makeshift classrooms to catch up on their syllabus. Duration: 02:14 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Says It Will Scale Up Its Ebola Response

UN Says It Will Scale Up Its Ebola Response

AFP (Nov. 20, 2014) UN Resident Coordinator David McLachlan-Karr and WHO representative in the country Daniel Kertesz updated the media on the UN Ebola response on Wednesday. Duration: 00:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Reuters - US Online Video (Nov. 20, 2014) U.S. Congress hears from a victim and company officials as it holds a hearing on the safety of Takata airbags after reports of injuries. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins