Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Healthcare Barriers and Utilization Among Adolescents and Young Adults Accessing Services for Homeless and Runaway Youth

TitleHealthcare Barriers and Utilization Among Adolescents and Young Adults Accessing Services for Homeless and Runaway Youth
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsChelvakumar G, Ford N, Kapa HM, Lange HLH, McRee A-L, Bonny AE
JournalJ Community Health
Date Published2017 Jun
Type of ArticleJournal
KeywordsAdolescent, Adult, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Health Services Accessibility, Homeless Persons, Homeless Youth, Humans, Male, Ohio, Young Adult

Homeless and runaway youth are at disproportionate risk for adverse health outcomes. Many barriers to accessing healthcare have been documented; however, the relative impact of discrete barriers on homeless youth healthcare utilization behavior is not firmly established. We administered a survey examining reported barriers and healthcare utilization among adolescents and young adults accessing services at three community centers for homeless and runaway youth. Of 180 respondents, 57 % were male, 80 % non-White, and 21 % identified as a sexual minority. Stepwise logistic regression models, controlling for age and study site, explored associations between barriers and 3 healthcare utilization outcomes (doctor visit in past 12 months; regular care provider; frequent emergency department (ED) visits). The most commonly reported barriers were "don't have a ride" (27.2 %), "no insurance" (23.3 %), and "costs too much" (22.8 %). All fear-based barriers (e.g., "I don't trust the doctors") were reported by <5 % of surveyed youth. Significant predictors of having seen a doctor in the past 12 months included sexual minority status (OR 2.8, p = 0.04) and possession of health insurance (OR 4.9, p < 0.001). Female sex (OR 5.2, p < 0.001) and reported external barriers other than health insurance (OR 0.2, p < 0.001) were associated with having a regular care provider. Fear-based concerns were associated (OR 3.8, p = 0.02) with frequent ED visits, as was being insured (OR 2.2, p = 0.03). These results underscore the need to clearly define healthcare outcomes when investigating barriers to care among homeless and runaway youth as the impact of discrete barriers varies depending on outcome of focus.

Alternate JournalJ Community Health
PubMed ID27817043