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Am J Public Health. 2015 Jul;105(7):1482-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302539. Epub 2015 May 14.

Health Outcomes of Obtaining Housing Among Older Homeless Adults.

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Rebecca T. Brown and Michael A. Steinman are with the Division of Geriatrics, University of California, San Francisco. Yinghui Miao is with the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA. Susan L. Mitchell is with the Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research, Boston, MA. Monica Bharel is with the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Boston. Kevin L. Ard is with the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. Mitkumar Patel is with the Department of Medicine, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Boston. Laura J. Grande is with the Psychology Service, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Boston. Deborah Blazey-Martin is with the Department of Medicine, Tufts Medical Center, Boston. Daniella Floru is with the Division of Geriatric Medicine, Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, Boston.



We determined the impact of obtaining housing on geriatric conditions and acute care utilization among older homeless adults.


We conducted a 12-month prospective cohort study of 250 older homeless adults recruited from shelters in Boston, Massachusetts, between January and June 2010. We determined housing status at follow-up, determined number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations over 12 months, and examined 4 measures of geriatric conditions at baseline and 12 months. Using multivariable regression models, we evaluated the association between obtaining housing and our outcomes of interest.


At 12-month follow-up, 41% of participants had obtained housing. Compared with participants who remained homeless, those with housing had fewer depressive symptoms. Other measures of health status did not differ by housing status. Participants who obtained housing had a lower rate of acute care use, with an adjusted annualized rate of acute care visits of 2.5 per year among participants who obtained housing and 5.3 per year among participants who remained homeless.


Older homeless adults who obtained housing experienced improved depressive symptoms and reduced acute care utilization compared with those who remained homeless.

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