Online Program

Understanding the health care needs of children in shelter

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rosemary Frasso, PhD, MSc, CPH, Center for Public Health Initiatives, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
Joyce Chang, MD, UPENN School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
Joretha Bourjolly, MSW, PhD, Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Karen Hudson, MSW, Hhi, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Nishika Vidanage, MPH (c), UPENN School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
Fran Barg, PhD, Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Objective: Children experiencing homelessness are a vulnerable population with poorer health than their housed counterparts. We sought to understand the health care needs of children in shelter, and to compare maternal and volunteer health care providers perspectives on the goals of programs designed to address those needs. Methods: A qualitative study design was employed. We conducted in-depth interviews of mothers in shelter (N=24) and engaged healthcare providers who volunteer to provide services in the collaborating shelters (N=54) through an on-line questionnaire. Maternal interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysis facilitated by NVIVO 9 Software. Freelisting questions were incorporated into the in-depth interviews and on-line questionnaire. Freelisting responses were analyzed using Anthropac 1.0 to identify salient terms for each subgroup. Results: Analysis of maternal semi structured interviews yielded several important pediatric health care needs including; insurance, well child care, doctors, and immunizations. Various themes surrounding the shelter environment emerged, including the need for infection control, improved physical conditions, better nutrition, and ways to help families cope with behavioral issues. Free listing allowed for a comparison of maternal perspectives and provider perspectives on programmatic goals. Conclusions: Mothers of children in shelter identified various pediatric health care needs, including many unique to the shelter environment. Mothers described unmet needs and propose goals for programs to improve health care for their children, which share some commonality with the perspective of volunteer health care providers. Areas of overlap include, health screening and access to medical and dental care.

Learning Areas:

Program planning
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe pediatric healthcare needs for children living in homeless shelters. Assess the goals of healthcare volunteers working with children in shelters. Compare maternal perceptions of needs volunteers goals.

Keyword(s): Health Care, Homeless Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a researcher working on improving access to pediatric care for vulnerable populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.