Homeless Youth And Access To Healthcare Research Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Sociology Type: Research Paper Paper: #77933840 Related Topics: Homelessness, Foster Care, Youth, Urban Sociology
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Homeless Youth: Access to Healthcare Services

Homeless Youth

Homeless Youth: Increasing Access to Healthcare Services

Homeless Youth: Increasing Access to Healthcare Services

The estimated number people in homeless families in 2014 were 216,261, of which nearly 60% were under the age of 18 (Henry et al., 2014, p. 29). The number of unaccompanied homeless children and youth in 2014 was estimated to be just under 200,000 individuals (p. 39). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines children as any individual under the age of 18, while youth are defined as being between 18- and 24-years of age. Unaccompanied children represent about 70% of this homeless demographic. Combining these numbers result in about 78,281 and 263,727 homeless youth and children, respectively, living on the streets and in shelters in the United States in 2014, which represent 13.5 and 45.6%, respectively, of all homeless individuals.

Other estimates suggest that the number of adolescents living on the streets is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million, which would make this age group the primary homeless demographic populating the streets and shelters of America (Hudson et al., 2010). This demographic tends to be sexually active, suffering from substance abuse issues, facing mental health problems, struggling with personal hygiene, and therefore in need of medical services. Given the magnitude of this problem, this essay will examine the barriers these homeless young adults face when seeking medical care.

Homeless Youth

The reasons young adults leave a home to live in the streets are numerous and can include parents kicking them out, escape from physical and/or sexual abuse, gender identity discrimination, parental conflict, family homelessness, by choice, or released from foster care, juvenile justice, or substance abuse treatment centers (HCH Clinicians' Network, 2009; Hudson et al., 2010). These young adults face a number of dangers, including sexual and physical abuse, sexual exploitation, prostitution, and drug/history of sexual abuse, 56% reported having injected drugs, and over 12% responded in the affirmative to a question about attempted suicide. Obviously, homeless youth would be susceptible to sexually-transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, hepatitis, addiction to drug and alcohol, and disproportionate suffering from mental health problems. The need for access to quality medical services is therefore great among this demographic.

The consequences are a greater reliance on emergency services for medical care, in lieu of primary care utilization (reviewed by Hudson et al., 2010). Some of the barriers identified by researchers include an unwillingness to interact with social services or law enforcement, unfamiliarity with how the healthcare system functions, non-English speaking, no health insurance, no transportation, and a lack of provider respect towards the homeless. Many of these barriers were validated by a survey of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, who were living on the streets of Los Angeles (Hudson, et al., 2010). The barriers identified by these participants included restrictive clinic hours and long wait times. If a homeless youth was willing to wait hours before seeing a clinician, they are often assaulted by bad smells and hostile attitudes of other homeless adults in the waiting room, only to be treated dismissively by clinicians if their health complaint does not represent a major medical condition like bipolar disorder or substance abuse. Importantly, Hudson and colleagues (2010) reported that the youth who participated in their study were thankful for the older and more experienced homeless youth willing to provide guidance on where to find needed medical…

Sources Used in Documents:


Ensign, J., & Panke, A. (2002). Barriers and bridges to care: Voices of homeless female adolescent youth in Seattle, Washington, USA. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37(2), 166-72.

HCH Clinicians' Network. (2009). Engaging adolescents who are homeless in care. Helping Hands, 13(5), 1-8. Retrieved from http://www.nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/HealingHandsOctweb.pdf.

Henry, M., Cortes, A., Shivji, A., Buck. K., Khadduri, J., & Culhane, D. (2014). Part 1. Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness. The 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. October 2014. Office of Community Planning and Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved from https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2014-AHAR-Part1-508-version.pdf.

Hudson, A.L., Nyamathi, A., Greengold, B., Stagle, A., Koniak-Griffin, D., Khalilifard, F., et al. (2010). Health-seeking challenges among homeless youth. Nursing Research, 59(3), 212-8.
Stone, C., Trisi, D., Sherman, A., & DeBot, B. (2015, February 20). A guide to statistics on historical trends in income inequality. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Retrieved from http://www.cbpp.org/files/11-28-11pov.pdf.

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