Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Homeless health and access to healthcare in urban settings a social epidemiology


Public Health


College of Health Professions

Date Range



Medicine and Health Sciences


This paper examines the relationship between healthcare and homelessness in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Homelessness is on the increase, with over 630,000 people in the US experiencing homelessness on a given night between 2009 and 2011. Ethnographic surveys, semi-structured interviews, life histories, demographic characteristics, and personal health statistics data were collected and compiled for 70 homeless individuals living in the study area. Preliminary results suggest that homeless people with health problems often have difficulty seeking healthcare service. 51% reported having difficulties finding appropriate healthcare service, and 70% had one or more health problems. The ethnographic findings suggest that many of the study population encountered multiple barriers that limited access to healthcare services. The intensive ethnographic method has helped to understand the difficulties being faced by the homeless population in the study area to have healthcare. The findings will be useful for community health program personnel, policy makers and local community based organizations including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to design suitable healthcare service delivery systems.

Conference Name

American Public Health Association Meeting

Conference Location

Boston, MA

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