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Priorities in the primary care of persons experiencing homelessness: convergence and divergence in the views of patients and provider/experts

Authors Steward J, Holt C, Pollio D, Austin E, Johnson N, Gordon A, Kertesz S

Received 7 October 2014

Accepted for publication 12 November 2014

Published 12 February 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 153—158


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Video abstract presented by Stefan G Kertesz

Views: 129

Jocelyn Steward,1 Cheryl L Holt,2 David E Pollio,3 Erika L Austin,4,5 Nancy Johnson,4 Adam J Gordon,6,7 Stefan G Kertesz4,8

Department of Health Care Management, Clayton State University, Morrow, GA, 2Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 3Department of Social Work, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 4Birmingham VA Medical Center, 5Department of Biostatistics, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL, 6VA Pittsburgh Health Care System, 7University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, 8Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, AL, USA

Purpose: Homeless individuals face unique challenges in health care. Several US initiatives seeking to advance patient-centered primary care for homeless persons are more likely to succeed if they incorporate the priorities of the patients they are to serve. However, there has been no prior research to elicit their priorities in primary care. This study sought to identify aspects of primary care important to persons familiar with homelessness based on personal experience or professional commitment, and to highlight where the priorities of patients and professionals dedicated to their care converge or diverge.
Methods: This qualitative exercise asked 26 homeless patients and ten provider/experts to rank 16 aspects of primary care using a card sort. Patient-level respondents (n=26) were recruited from homeless service organizations across all regions of the USA and from an established board of homeless service users. Provider/expert-level respondents (n=10) were recruited from veteran and non-veteran-focused homeless health care programs with similar geographic diversity.
Results: Both groups gave high priority to accessibility, evidence-based care, coordination, and cooperation. Provider/experts endorsed patient control more strongly than patients. Patients ranked information about their care more highly than provider/experts.
Conclusion: Accessibility and the perception of care based on medical evidence represent priority concerns for homeless patients and provider/experts. Patient control, a concept endorsed by experts, is not strongly endorsed by homeless patients. Understanding how to assure fluid communication, coordination, and team member cooperation could represent more worthy targets for research and quality improvement in this domain.

Keywords: homeless persons, patient-centered care, primary care, provider perspectives

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