Health status, needs, and health care barriers among the homeless

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 1998 May;9(2):140-52. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2010.0379.


Perceived health status, health conditions, and access and barriers to care are important predictors of mortality and the use of services among the homeless. This study assesses these issues by structured interview of 128 homeless adults from San Francisco. Of these adults, 21.1 percent were women (mean age 37 compared to 42 for men). In terms of ethnicity, 38 percent were white; 30 percent were African American; 17 percent were Latino; and 15 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American/Alaskan, or of mixed ethnicity. Of these adults, 49 percent rated health as poor or fair. Men were four times as likely as women to report their health status as excellent or good. Persons of color were more likely to report unmet needs for shelter, regular meals, employment, and job skills/training. These findings add information on those homeless not often included in research and indicate that these marginalized individuals may be in the poorest health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / economics
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Homeless Persons*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • San Francisco
  • Sex Factors