The Homeless and the Health System: Profile of the Homeless Patient
J. Posen, N. Tanai, S. Spiro, D. Frumer
Social Work Dept., Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv and Faculty of Social Work, Tel Aviv University
The homeless population is mobile and does not use ambulatory health care services. Thus the major contact between the homeless and the medical establishment occurs primarily when they are treated for acute symptoms in hospital. We describe the clinical and sociodemographic profile of the homeless who require hospital services. The research population included 50 homeless treated in the emergency room and various departments of our medical center between October 1994 and August 1995. Social workers used a questionnaire relating to clinical, sociodemographic and social factors. Most patients were men, 76% under the age of 50. The most common diagnosis was alcoholism; other diagnoses included back, limb and joint injuries, infections, skin diseases, and general exhaustion. There were subgroups with differing needs within this homeless population for which appropriate rehabilitation programs are proposed.