Providers of Primary Care to Homeless Women in Los Angeles County

Published in: Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, v. 25, no. 2, Apr. 2002, p. 53-67

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2002

by Jeffrey Luck, Ronald Andersen, Suzanne L. Wenzel, Lisa Arangua, Dalia Wood, Lillian Gelberg

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Little is known about the access barriers homeless women face at the sites where they are most likely to receive primary health care. To investigate this issue, the authors administered a mail survey to administrators and clinicians at clinic sites that were actual or potential providers of primary health care to homeless women in Los Angeles County in 1997. The response rate was 65%. Ninety percent of the homeless women seen by responding sites were seen at only 34% of those sites (designated as major providers). Deficiencies were identified in several structural and process characteristics that enhance access to and quality of care for homeless women, including clinician training in care for homeless persons; formal screening for homeless status and associated risk factors; and on-site provision of comprehensive health services, including mental health, substance abuse, reproductive health, and ancillary services. Some, but not all, deficiencies were less severe at major providers. Their results suggest that, although providers of care to homeless women share challenges faced by many safety net providers, there are several policy interventions that could improve access to and quality of care for homeless women.

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