Online Program

Medical-Legal Partnerships to Address Civil Legal Problems among Homeless Veterans

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 11:10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Jack Tsai, Ph.D., Psychiatry, VA New England MIRECC, West Haven, CT
Background: Medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) combine the skill sets of health professionals and lawyers to treat social determinants of health. In MLPs, legal providers work with healthcare teams typically in clinical settings to help patients address legal problems that may impact their health. MLPs have opened a new frontier to helping homeless populations and have only begun to be explored. Legal problems experienced by homeless populations, such as evictions, child support issues, and debt, can have a negative impact on their ability to obtain and sustain housing and may be addressed by MLPs. Methods: This presentation describes preliminary results of a one-year observational study of MLPs for homeless and low-income veterans with mental illness in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system. It is a first-of-its kind evaluation conducted across four sites in two Northeastern states and will include over 200 veterans. Results: The sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of veterans served by the MLPs will be described along with their legal problems and the legal services they receive. The effect of providing legal services on housing, mental health, and quality of life outcomes after 3 months will be presented. A series of workshops were also conducted to educate clinicians about MLPs and pre-post measures of clinician knowledge and MLP referrals will be presented. Conclusions: MLPs hold great potential in preventing and ending homelessness. Clinicians can be educated about MLPs through workshops and are generally receptive to working with legal providers to help their homeless patients.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe common civil legal problems that homeless veterans have that may affect their recovery. Discuss how medical and legal providers can collaborate to help homeless populations.

Keyword(s): Homelessness, Law

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator of federally funded grants and published over 100 peer-reviewed articles on homeless and health services.
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.