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Health Needs of the Homeless: Implications for Social Services and Support

Jun 26, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jun 26, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


Stephens et al (2002) defines poverty as a physical state where a person lacks money or material possession of a certain amount. Destitution or extreme poverty refers to the state a person is deprived of the basic human needs that commonly includes water, food, clothing, sanitation, healthcare, shelter and education. On the other hand, Stephens et al (2002) defines relative poverty as economic inequality in a society or a location where people live. Furthermore, he elaborates that the homeless people include the young and the adult people in insecure and fragile accommodation, and not necessarily the roofless population. Accommodation that is insecure damages both physical and mental health while housing that is improved improves the population health (Stephens et al, 2002). According to Conron et al (2010), homelessness impeded social capital acquisition, job opportunities and undermines the sense of identity of the young people exposing them to wide range of stressors and dangers.


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Conron et al (2010) did a population based research on gender differences and sexual orientation identity in adult health. The study used multivariable logistic regression in examining self reported health patterns by gender and sexual orientation. From the study, the results was that sexual minorities such as the gay and the lesbians, bisexuals compared with the heterosexuals were more likely to show limitation of activity, worry or tension, drug abuse, smoking, asthma, HIV testing and lifetime sexual victimization but did not show any difference in Papanicolaou tests for three years, diabetes, lifetime mammography or heart diseases (Conron et al, 2002).

Furthermore Conron et al (2010) points out that in comparison with the heterosexuals, the bisexuals  reported  more health care barriers, suicidal ideation of past year, current sadness and risks of cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, the gay men had less likelihood of becoming obese or overweight and to obtain the tests for antigen that is prostate-specific, while lesbians had more likelihood of becoming overweight to report many risks of cardiovascular diseases. From the findings, it comes out clearly that disparities in sexual orientation in risks of chronic diseases, access to health care, victimization, smoking and mental health merit some attention.

According to Stephens et al (2002), statistics shows that a third of global deaths which translates to 50,000 daily deaths or 18 million dying annually are poverty related. Therefore, since 1990, about 270 million people have died due to poverty and most of them are children and women (Stephens et al, 2002). Furthermore, those under the poverty condition currently suffer from diseases, starvation and hunger disproportionately (Stephens et al, 2002). Conron et al (2010) observe that those living under poverty conditions suffer from low life expectancy. World Health Organization further states that malnutrition and hunger are single threats that are grave to the public health globally. Moreover, malnutrition currently is the leading cause of child mortality among all the causes. Among 90% of child birth maternal deaths occur in sub- Sahara Africa and Asia, compared to the less than 1% found in the developed nations (Stephens et al, 2002).

Those who are homeless or are destitute have also been shown to be likely of incurring or having disability during their lifetime. Additionally, infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria can increase poverty by diverting economic resources and health from productivity and investments. In some developing nations, malaria decreases their GDP growth by 1.3% while AIDS reduces the growth of Africa annually by 0.3 to 1.5 % (Stephens et al, 2002).

Health needs of the homeless and those living in extreme poverty

            1) Poor mental health-it is high for the people living in rough conditions compared to the population in general.

            2) Poor physical health-the homeless population suffer from same physical problems like the general population but more severe and more often because of the limited access to the basic commodities.

            3) Risk taking behavior-self harming and sexual risk behavior is common among the homeless population, and suicide is the biggest death cause among the homeless people in the streets. Moreover, substance use and criminal activity are inevitable among the insecure homeless domicile (Conron et al, 2010).

The usefulness of the information to the human/social services career

The information in this essay will help in learning more about the homeless and their strategies for surviving and coping. It also provides more information on health needs support networks and examples of good practice of the poor and the homeless on health issues. Furthermore, it provides different aspects of health from mental and physical health among the people living in poverty for future studies to be done on these health issues. 


Conron, K. J., Mimiaga, M. J., & Landers, S. J. (January 01, 2010). A population-based study of sexual orientation identity and gender differences in adult health. American Journal of     Public Health, 100, 10, 1953-60.

Stephens, J., & Mental Health Foundation (London, England). (2002). The mental health needs    of homeless young people: Bright futures : working with vulnerable young people : a    report commissioned by The Mental Health Foundation. London: The Mental Health      Foundation.





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