National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

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

Chelvakumar, G.,
Ford, N.,
Kapa, H.M.,
Lange, H.L.H.,
McRee, A.,
Bonny, A.E.
Year Published: 2017
Journal Article
Journal Name: 
Journal of Community Health
Volume: 42

Issue: 3

This journal article describes a study conducted to determine the impact of discrete barriers to accessing healthcare among homeless youth. The researchers administered a survey about healthcare barriers and utilization to 180 respondents accessing services at three community centers for homeless and runaway youth. This study explores associations between barriers and three healthcare utilization outcomes: 1) a doctor’s visit in the past 12 months outside of an emergency department (ED) or urgent care clinic, 2) a regular healthcare provider, and 3) frequency of ED or urgent care visits. The most commonly reported barriers were “I don’t have a ride,” “no insurance,” and “costs too much.” Less than 5 percent of the youth reported any fear-based barriers, such as “I don’t trust the doctors.” Significant predictors of having seen a doctor in the past 12 months included sexual minority status and having health insurance. Female respondents were more than five times likely to have a regular healthcare provider. 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 the outcome of focus. 

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