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Factors associated with access to care and healthcare utilization in the homeless population of England

18 Feb 2016


Abstract
Background

People experiencing homelessness are known to have complex health needs, which are often compounded by poor access to healthcare. This study investigates the individual-level factors associated with access to care and healthcare utilization among homeless people in England.

Methods

A cross-sectional sample of 2505 homeless people from 19 areas of England was used to investigate associations with access to care and healthcare utilization.

Results

Rough sleepers were much less likely to be registered with a general practitioner (GP) (odds ratio (OR) 0.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.30–0.66) than single homeless in accommodation (reference group) or the hidden homeless (OR 1.48, 95% CI 0.88–2.50). Those who had recently been refused registration by a GP or dentist also had lower odds of being admitted to hospital (OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.49–0.91) or using an ambulance (OR 0.73, 95% CI 0.54–0.99).

Conclusions

The most vulnerable homeless people face the greatest barriers to utilizing healthcare. Rough sleepers have particularly low rates of GP registration and this appears to have a knock-on effect on admission to hospital. Improving primary care access for the homeless population could ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in society are able to access vital hospital services which they are currently missing out on.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Journal of Public Health