Study finds housing issues plague community health center patients

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Modern Healthcare

Nearly half of patients who use the nation's network of community health centers reported having some type of current or past problem with maintaining a stable place to live, according to a new analysis.

Nearly half of more than 3,100 adult community health center patients surveyed between September 2014 and April 2015 had experienced housing instability, according to results published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Among the issues reported, more than a quarter of respondents said they had moved two or more times over the past year, or who had difficulty paying their rent or mortgage. About 1.2% of those surveyed said they were currently homeless, a figure that was seven times higher compared to the rest of the US population.

About 9% of respondents said they lived in a place they themselves did not rent or own, while more than 6% said they had stable housing now but had been homeless in the past.

Study authors recommended community health center providers universally ask patients about their housing status—which has increasingly been tied to poor health outcomes. The analysis found those who said they had housing problems were more likely to report health problems, increased use of emergency departments and delays in getting medical care and medications compared to patients who never experienced housing problems.

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