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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Applying the chronic care model to homeless veterans: Effect of a population approach to primary care on utilization and clinical outcomes
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The authors compared a population-tailored approach to primary care for homeless veterans with a usual care approach. A retrospective prolective cohort study of homeless veterans enrolled in a population-tailored primary care clinic matched to a historical sample in general internal medicine clinics was conducted. Overall, 177 patients were enrolled: 79 in the Homeless-Oriented Primary Care Clinic and 98 in general internal medicine primary care. Homeless-oriented primary care-enrolled patients had greater improvements in hypertension, diabetes, and lipid control, and primary care use was higher during the first 6 months (5.96 visits per person vs 1.63 for general internal medicine) but stabilized to comparable rates during the second 6 months (2.01 vs 1.31, respectively). Emergency department (ED) use was also higher (2.59 vs 1.89 visits), although with 40% lower odds for nonacute ED visits than for the general internal medicine group (95% confidence interval = 0.2, 0.8). Excluding substance abuse and mental health admissions, hospitalizations were reduced among the homeless veterans between the 2 periods (28.6% vs 10.8%; P < .01) compared with the general internal medicine group (48.2% vs 44.4%; P = .6; difference of differences, P < .01).Tailoring primary care to homeless veterans can decrease unnecessary ED use and medical admissions and improve chronic disease management.