Purpose: To explore the healthcare experiences of homeless individuals and inform providers of the barriers created by the situation of homelessness.
Data sources: This was a qualitative research study using a grounded theory approach. The sample included homeless individuals older than 18 years living in northeastern Wisconsin.
Conclusions: This research provided rich insight into the healthcare experiences of the homeless. Five key conclusions were made: (a) the great majority of homeless people have an external locus of control; (b) most homeless individuals lack the necessary resources to meet their physical needs of shelter, air, water, and food; (c) most homeless individuals lack the financial resources to seek adequate health care; (d) access to resources is limited because of poor transportation, telephones, and mail; and (e) all those interviewed felt that healthcare providers lack compassion for the homeless.
Implications for practice: Healthcare providers can use the concepts discovered in this study to help improve their skills and comfort level when working with homeless individuals. A decrease in acute illnesses and an increase in the effective management of chronic disease resulting in fewer long-term complications and medical costs because of these unnecessary complications could be seen. Healthcare professionals may also volunteer to become more involved with the care of the homeless if they are confident in their skills. Improving the health of the homeless in the community will result in improvements in the overall health of the community.