Homing in on the Homeless

Assessing the Physical Health of Homeless Adults in Los Angeles County Using an Original Method to Obtain Physical Examination Data in a Survey

Published in: Health Services Research, v. 31, no. 5, Dec. 1996, p. 533-549

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1996

by Lawrence C. Kleinman, Howard E. Freeman, Judith F. Perlman, Lillian Gelberg

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Public policy that decreases the funding for social services may combine with the ascendancy of corporate managed care to increase the health care deficit. Assessing the health impact of these policy changes on various populations is a fundamental challenge for health services research. Disadvantaged populations, such as the homeless, are likely to be affected disproportionately. Research quality data on the physical health of such populations are difficult and expensive to obtain. In particular, physical examination data have not been available and self-reports are insufficient. The authors' objective was to develop and utilize a structured physical exam system enabling lay survey researchers to report reliably physical findings related to six tracer conditions in a disadvantaged population. They found that researchers can use laypersons to collect reliable and valid physical exam data on disadvantaged populations. This represents a new tool for assessing and monitoring the health of these populations.

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