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Homeless adults have significant unmet health care needs
Date:5/14/2010

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."


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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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