Study exploring the relationship between homelessness and health

Building upon previous analysis, this reports links health and homelessness data for the first time at a national level in Scotland. This research combines Scottish Government homelessness data with six health datasets from NHS National Service Scotland covering Accident and Emergency attendances, Inpatient admissions , Outpatient appointments, Prescriptions, the Scottish Drugs Misuse Database and Mental Health admissions, together with information about deaths from National Records of Scotland.

People assessed as homeless are likely to be among the most deprived in Scotland. As people from more deprived areas are known to have poorer health outcomes, and there are many homelessness applications per year, it is important to understand the impact homelessness and health have on each other.

Health outcomes and homelessness are known to be related. Many studies have been conducted looking at the specific health issues of people experiencing homelessness:

  • Homeless people are among the most vulnerable and socially excluded in our society and often find it difficult to access the help they need
  • Many homeless people present to health services with multiple morbidity including drug or alcohol dependence, mental health and physical problems such as tuberculosis and breathing difficulties
  • Homeless people have higher rates of premature mortality than the rest of the population, especially from suicide and unintentional injuries, and an increased prevalence of a range of infectious diseases, mental disorders, and substance misuse. Although engagement with health services and adherence to treatments is often compromised, homeless people typically attend the emergency department more often than non-homeless people
  • Other studies has shown that homeless populations, individuals with substance use disorders, sex workers, and imprisoned individuals experience extreme health inequities across a wide range of health conditions, with the relative effect of exclusion being greater in female individuals than in male individuals.

This study aims to expand on these findings and examine the relationship between health and homelessness for the first time at a national level in Scotland.

Click here to read the report in full