Perception of Access to Health Care by Homeless Individuals Seeking Services at a Day Shelter

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Homeless individuals experience significant physical, mental health and substance abuse issues. This study describes the prevalence of health issues and perceptions of access to care among 300 homeless individuals who use a day shelter. Approximately 43% described a serious/chronic physical health problem, 53% a serious mental health problem, and 49% a substance use disorder. Those reporting a serious problem were more likely to have insurance and to report greater perceived access to care but perceived access to care was less than expected. Having insurance was also related to longer duration of homelessness. Targeting interventions to better match services to homeless individuals is the next challenge for advanced practice psychiatric and other nursing groups. Implications for doctoral level nurses in ways of evaluating models of care for this marginalized group are discussed.

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