It is essential to assess, detect, and prevent the variety of risks to which vulnerable population groups are exposed. For this study, the homeless population group was selected. This paper aims to analyze the vulnerability factors, cultural issues, and unmet health needs associated with the selected group. Also, two strategies for helping vulnerable patients will be provided alongside with the discussion of advocacy needs.
Rationale for Selection
First of all, it is important to explain the rationale for the selection of homeless population group. The most recent US Department of Housing and Urban Development report on homelessness, published in 2015, reveals that approximately 564 000 people in the United States live in shelters or on the streets (Koh & O’Connell, 2016, p. 2586). The vast amount of the U. S. population is exposed to the issues related to homelessness. Therefore, the implementation of the helping strategies is needed.
The principal vulnerability factor that should be mentioned is the absence of access to proper medication alongside with foot problems, hearing, and visual difficulties. In their study, Chong et al. (2014) mention that “more than 30% of the homeless population” are nonadherent to medications for chronic diseases (p. 56). The inability to maintain the personal hygiene due to habitation conditions is also a significant risk factor for the selected group. Also, many homeless people are exposed to the development of depression (Palar et al., 2015).
Furthermore, the cultural issues should also be considered for the paper. One of the principal factors is lack of education. The homeless population often do not have enough information about the widespread diseases and the ways of prevention. Additionally, the social circumstances of the selected group promote unhealthy and destructive behavioral patterns, which is also a significant risk factor.
Unmet Health Needs
Even though there are numerous programs for helping homeless people, many of their needs remain unmet. For example, the problem of visual impairments is one of the most in-demand issues to be solved (Noel et al., 2015). There is an evident connection between homelessness and poor ocular health, and there should be community health events including vision testing (Chong et al., 2014). Additionally, many homeless people experience severe food insecurity, which is associated with symptoms of depression (Palar et al., 2015).
Strategies for Helping
Considering the mentioned factors, it is possible to propose two strategies for helping vulnerable homeless populations. Firstly, the community-research partnerships strategy could be implemented (Bonevski et al., 2014). It engages the community members in research and education about the problems of homeless people. Secondly, Bonevski et al. (2014) mention use of media and social marketing as a successful strategy, which could also be applied to the homelessness issue. The mentioned approaches should be efficient because they involve the help from the community and the use of mass media, thus they would reinforce one another.
It is also important to mention that homeless people are often in great need of advocacy. Many individuals become homeless due to economic pressure, job loss and the rising cost of living. These problems are difficult to solve when a person is not supported by the advocacy providers. Therefore, it is essential to estimate the vulnerability factors, which were mentioned before, and, accordingly, to implement a social policy of advocating for the homeless community with the help of local officials and media.
Bonevski, B., Randell, M., Paul, C., Chapman, K., Twyman, L., Bryant, J.,… Hughes, C. (2014). Reaching the hard-to-reach: A systematic review of strategies for improving health and medical research with socially disadvantaged groups. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 14(42), 1-29.
Chong, M. T., Yamaki, J., Harwood, M., d’Assalenaux, R., Rosenberg, E., Aruoma, O., & Bishayee, A. (2014). Assessing health conditions and medication use among the homeless community in Long Beach, California. Journal of Research in Pharmacy Practice, 3(2), 56-61.
Koh, H. K., & O’Connell, J. J. (2016). Improving health care for homeless people. JAMA, 316(24), 2586-2587.
Noel, C. W., Fung, H., Srivastava, R., Lebovic, G., Hwang, S. W., Berger, A., & Lichter, M. (2015). Visual impairment and unmet eye care needs among homeless adults in a Canadian city. JAMA Ophthalmology, 133(4), 455-460.
Palar, K., Kushel, M., Frongillo, E. A., Riley, E. D., Grede, N., Bangsberg, D., & Weiser, S. D. (2015). Food insecurity is longitudinally associated with depressive symptoms among homeless and marginally-housed individuals living with HIV. AIDS and Behavior, 19(8), 1527-1534.