Multimorbidity among people experiencing homelessness— insights from primary care data

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Background: Although the poor health of people experiencing homelessness is increasingly recognised in health discourse, there is a dearth of research that has quantified the nature and magnitude of chronic health issues and morbidity among people experiencing homelessness, particularly in the Australian context. Methods: Analysis of the medical records of 2068 “active” patients registered with a specialist homeless health service in Perth, Western Australia as of 31 December 2019. Results: Overall, 67.8% of patients had at least one chronic physical health condition, 67.5% had at least one mental health condition, and 61.6% had at least one alcohol or other drug (AOD) use disorder. Nearly half (47.8%) had a dual diagnosis of mental health and AOD use issues, and over a third (38.1%) were tri-morbid (mental health, AOD and physical health condition). Three-quarters (74.9%) were multimorbid or had at least two long-term conditions (LTCs), and on average, each patient had 3.3 LTCs. Conclusions: The study findings have substantial implications from both a health risk and healthcare treatment perspective for people experiencing homeless. The pervasiveness of preventable health conditions among people experiencing homelessness also high-lights the imperative to improve the accessibility of public health programs and screening to reduce their morbidity and premature mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6498
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021


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