Ambulatory Health Services Provided to Low-Income and Homeless Adult Patients in a Major Community Health Center

Published In: Journal of General Internal Medicine, v. 11, Mar. 1996, p. 156-162

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1996

by Lillian Gelberg, Bruce H. Dobkin, Barbara Leake

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Addresses whether ambulatory health care services provided to low-income and homeless adult patients in one major community health center are similar. The authors examined the medical records of over 400 patients who were either homeless or low-income with a home. Homeless patients on average were provided with as many laboratory tests as were low-income domiciled patients. Homeless patients returned for more visits, were more likely to have longer visits, and were provided with more laboratory tests, procedures, services, referrals, medications, and travel vouchers. In addition, many procedures and services received by the homeless were for non-medical assistance. However, the use of preventive health services, such as TB screening tests and tests for sexually transmitted disease, was low for both homeless and domiciled patients. This study concludes that homeless patients receiving care from a model program designed to address their special needs are likely to return for follow-up visits and to utilize services at least as much as low-income domiciled patients.

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