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Design and validation of the Health Professionals' Attitudes Toward the Homeless Inventory (HPATHI)

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      BackgroundRecent literature has called for humanistic care of patients and for medical schools to begin incorporating humanism into medical education. To assess the attitudes of health-care professionals toward homeless patients and to demonstrate how those attitudes might impact optimal care, we developed and validated a new survey instrument, the Health Professional Attitudes Toward the Homeless Inventory (HPATHI). An instrument that measures providers' attitudes toward the homeless could offer meaningful information for the design and implementation of educational activities that foster more compassionate homeless health care. Our intention was to describe the process of designing and validating the new instrument and to discuss the usefulness of the instrument for assessing the impact of educational experiences that involve working directly with the homeless on the attitudes, interest, and confidence of medical students and other health-care professionals.MethodsThe study consisted of three phases: identifying items for the instrument; pilot testing the initial instrument with a group of 72 third-year medical students; and modifying and administering the instrument in its revised form to 160 health-care professionals and third-year medical students. The instrument was analyzed for reliability and validity throughout the process.ResultsA 19-item version of the HPATHI had good internal consistency with a Cronbach's alpha of 0.88 and a test-retest reliability coefficient of 0.69. The HPATHI showed good concurrent validity, and respondents with more than one year of experience with homeless patients scored significantly higher than did those with less experience. Factor analysis yielded three subscales: Personal Advocacy, Social Advocacy, and Cynicism.ConclusionsThe HPATHI demonstrated strong reliability for the total scale and satisfactory test-retest reliability. Extreme group comparisons suggested that experience with the homeless rather than medical training itself could affect health-care professionals' attitudes toward the homeless. This could have implications for the evaluation of medical school curricula.

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      Most cited references 26

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      The Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations: application to medical care use and outcomes for homeless people.

      (1) To present the Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations, a major revision of a leading model of access to care that is particularly applicable to vulnerable populations; and (2) to test the model in a prospective study designed to define and determine predictors of the course of health services utilization and physical health outcomes within one vulnerable population: homeless adults. We paid particular attention to the effects of mental health, substance use, residential history, competing needs, and victimization. A community-based probability sample of 363 homeless individuals was interviewed and examined for four study conditions (high blood pressure, functional vision impairment, skin/leg/foot problems, and tuberculosis skin test positivity). Persons with at least one study condition were followed longitudinally for up to eight months. Homeless adults had high rates of functional vision impairment (37 percent), skin/leg/foot problems (36 percent), and TB skin test positivity (31 percent), but a rate of high blood pressure similar to that of the general population (14 percent). Utilization was high for high blood pressure (81 percent) and TB skin test positivity (78 percent), but lower for vision impairment (33 percent) and skin/leg/foot problems (44 percent). Health status for high blood pressure, vision impairment, and skin/leg/foot problems improved over time. In general, more severe homeless status, mental health problems, and substance abuse did not deter homeless individuals from obtaining care. Better health outcomes were predicted by a variety of variables, most notably having a community clinic or private physician as a regular source of care. Generally, use of currently available services did not affect health outcomes. Homeless persons are willing to obtain care if they believe it is important. Our findings suggest that case identification and referral for physical health care can be successfully accomplished among homeless persons and can occur concurrently with successful efforts to help them find permanent housing, alleviate their mental illness, and abstain from substance abuse.
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        Risk of death among homeless women: a cohort study and review of the literature.

         D. Hwang,  M Cheung (2004)
        Homeless people are at high risk for illness and have higher death rates than the general population. Patterns of mortality among homeless men have been investigated, but less attention has been given to mortality rates among homeless women. We report mortality rates and causes of death in a cohort of women who used homeless shelters in Toronto. We also compare our results with those of other published studies of homeless women and with data for women in the general population. A cohort of 1981 women not accompanied by dependent children who used homeless shelters in Toronto in 1995 was observed for death over a mean of 2.6 years. In addition, we analyzed data from published studies of mortality rates among homeless women in 6 other cities (Montreal, Copenhagen, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Brighton, UK). In Toronto, mortality rates were 515 per 100,000 person-years among homeless women 18-44 years of age and 438 per 100,000 person-years among those 45-64 years of age. Homeless women 18-44 years of age were 10 times more likely to die than women in the general population of Toronto. In studies from a total of 7 cities, the risk of death among homeless women was greater than that among women in the general population by a factor of 4.6 to 31.2 in the younger age group and 1.0 to 2.0 in the older age group. In 6 of the 7 cities, the mortality rates among younger homeless women and younger homeless men were not significantly different. In contrast, in 4 of the 6 cities, the mortality rates were significantly lower among older homeless women than among older homeless men. Excess mortality is far greater among homeless women under age 45 years than among older homeless women. Mortality rates among younger homeless women often approach or equal those of younger homeless men. Efforts to reduce deaths of homeless women should focus on those under age 45.
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            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA
            [2 ]Department of Family Practice, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
            BMC Med Educ
            BMC Medical Education
            BioMed Central (London )
            10 January 2005
            : 5
            : 2
            Copyright © 2005 Buck et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Research Article



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