A homeless individual is one who lacks fixed and reliable housing, and approximately 553,000 people fit that description on any given night in the United States. A new retrospective cohort study led by investigators from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston examines patterns, causes, and outcomes of acute hospitalizations between 2007 and 2013 for homeless individuals and non-homeless control groups in three populous and diverse U.S. states: Florida, California, and Massachusetts. Data suggest a rise in acute hospital use among homeless individuals for mental illness and substance use disorder. The results were published in the January 2019 issue of Medical Care. The article is titled “Trends, Causes, and Outcomes of Hospitalizations for Homeless Individuals--A Retrospective Cohort Study.” "The homeless population is aging, and the rate of hospitalizations for homeless individuals is increasing," said lead author Rishi Wadhera, MD, an investigator in the Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology at BIDMC. "Although there has been a recent push to establish better policy and public health measures to improve the health of homeless adults, few studies have examined the patterns and causes of hospitalizations in this population. We found that hospitalizations among homeless adults tend to be for a very different set of conditions than non-homeless adults, even after accounting for differences in demographics." To examine these trends, hospital discharge data was acquired from Massachusetts and Florida between 2001 and 2013 and from California between 2007 and 2011.
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