Health and Homelessness

Gary S. Ferenchick, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(7):1462. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400070200036.
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To the Editor.—  A recent article on the health of homeless clinic patients by Gelberg and colleagues1 was helpful to those of us who care for this population on a regular basis. Their findings underscore some of the problems and issues encountered when caring for this high-risk population and, additionally, raise several questions.First, their conclusion that no differences existed in the prevalence of most medical conditions between homeless vs nonhomeless patients confirms previous observations,2 and raises the possibility that factors other than current housing status may contribute to the medical problems of homeless persons attending such a clinic.Second, 46% of their study population were current drug users,3 but only 1% of that population offered "substance abuse" as a reason for visiting the clinic.1 This relatively high prevalence of drug use and its apparent low recognition as a medical problem undermines the medical treatment of


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