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Vulnerable Populations: Homeless People and Health Inequalities

Gardner, J., & Emory, J. (2018). Changing students’ perceptions of the homeless: A community service learning experience. Nurse Education in Practice, 29, 133–136. 

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As an underserved, vulnerable part of society, homeless people can take advantage of a service learning experience for nursing students. The article’s main argument implies that the homeless define the negative and disrespectful attitudes among healthcare providers as a “barrier to healthcare” (Gardner & Emory, 2018, p. 133). The authors conducted a case study based on the community-based organization that provided services to the homeless intending to raise awareness of senior nursing students, which defines the objective view of the article. The central point of the article is to examine the nursing student’s perceptions of the homeless due to a service learning clinical practicum experience. It is a useful and credible source that emphasizes a nurse practitioner’s role in improving the health of the homeless by linking social determinants to poor health outcomes. This article can be a helpful starting point for my research project as it determines the key challenges that nurses address in delivering care to vulnerable populations. It will help me shape my argument that by focusing on vulnerable populations, one can improve the overall health of communities served worldwide.

O’Toole, T. P., Johnson, E. E., Aiello, R., Kane, V., & Pape, L. (2016). Tailoring care to vulnerable populations by incorporating social determinants of health: the veterans health administration’s “Homeless patient aligned care team” program. Preventing Chronic Disease, 13(E44), 1–12. 

The main argument of the article is based on incorporating social determinants of health into clinical care, which is considered an efficient approach for addressing the needs of high-risk homeless veterans. The researchers emphasize the role of health care systems in enhancing medical and social outcomes for the homeless. Compared with other sources, it is a more in-depth analysis of the vulnerable population assessing the national implementation of a “homeless medical home” initiative in the Veterans Health Administration. Based on the credibility of the information, it is an objective article highlighting the critical obstacles to healthcare for socially disadvantaged populations. O’Toole et al. (2016) define such broader social determinants, including “health, such as housing, income, and family supports” (p. 4). It is a useful source for developing my research project since it explains associations of the increased levels of patient involvement in healthcare with population-tailored medical home care for homeless veterans. The incorporation of social determinants into health care delivery, together with dedicated personnel time and community integration, is crucial for improving the health outcomes of vulnerable populations.

Stafford, A., & Wood, L. (2017). Tackling health disparities for people who are homeless? Start with social determinants. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(12), 1–12. 

Through the course of my research, I am planning to pay more attention to the immense health inequalities associated with the homeless population. Stafford & Wood (2017) identify such imbalances, including “shorter life expectancy, higher morbidity, and greater usage of acute hospital services” (p. 2). The main argument of the article is that the homeless group is the result of accumulated hostile social and economic conditions. The authors examine the topic from the perspective of social determinants by pointing out that homelessness is a critical driving force of poor health. This study is primarily focused on the social determinants of homeless concerning that they are strongly intertwined with the health disparities. The article also helps develop another critical point of my research, which is the long-term homelessness and its adverse implications on low health. According to the three case histories of homeless patients used for this study, the interconnection of social determinants of health explains the increased hospital utilization by the homeless. Stafford & Wood’s (2017) article significantly supports my research’s central idea that homeless clinical treatment should be considered under the combination of both health and social issues.

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