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Am J Public Health. 2013 Dec;103 Suppl 2:S368-73. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301064. Epub 2013 May 16.

Evaluating the impact of dental care on housing intervention program outcomes among homeless veterans.

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Elizabeth Nunez and Gretchen Gibson are with the Office of Dentistry, Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office, Washington, DC. Gretchen Gibson is also with the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System of the Ozarks, Fayetteville, AR. Judith A. Jones is with the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, MA, and the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA. John A. Schinka is with the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, Tampa, FL, and the Department of Psychiatry and School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa.



In this retrospective longitudinal cohort study, we examined the impact of dental care on outcomes among homeless veterans discharged from a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) transitional housing intervention program.


Our sample consisted of 9870 veterans who were admitted into a VA homeless intervention program during 2008 and 2009, 4482 of whom received dental care during treatment and 5388 of whom did not. Primary outcomes of interest were program completion, employment or stable financial status on discharge, and transition to permanent housing. We calculated descriptive statistics and compared the 2 study groups with respect to demographic characteristics, medical and psychiatric history (including alcohol and substance use), work and financial support, and treatment outcomes.


Veterans who received dental care were 30% more likely than those who did not to complete the program, 14% more likely to be employed or financially stable, and 15% more likely to have obtained residential housing.


Provision of dental care has a substantial positive impact on outcomes among homeless veterans participating in housing intervention programs. This suggests that homeless programs need to weigh the benefits and cost of dental care in program planning and implementation.

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