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Post-Hospital Housing Helps Chronically Ill Homeless

Last Updated: May 05, 2009.

Post-hospitalization housing assistance for homeless people with chronic illnesses results in fewer subsequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations, according to a study published in the May 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Post-hospitalization housing assistance for homeless people with chronic illnesses results in fewer subsequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations, according to a study published in the May 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Laura S. Sadowski, M.D., of the Stroger Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, and colleagues randomized 407 homeless adults with chronic conditions, treated at the hospital from 2003 to 2006, to receive either transitional housing after hospital discharge, followed by long-term housing placement and case management services or usual care consisting of standard discharge planning from hospital social workers. The groups were followed through 2007 and hospitalizations, hospital days, and emergency department visits were measured.

The investigators found that at 18-month follow-up, 73 percent of study subjects had at least one emergency department visit or hospitalization. Compared to the control group receiving usual care, the group receiving the housing intervention had 1.2 fewer emergency department visits, an annualized mean reduction of 0.5 hospitalizations, and 2.7 fewer hospital days. Adjusting for variables, the group receiving the housing intervention showed a relative reduction in emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and hospital days of 24, 26, and 29 percent, respectively, the authors note.

"In summary, an intervention comprising housing and case management greatly reduced emergency department and hospital use among homeless adults with chronic medical illnesses. These results provide a rationale and a blueprint for programs that address the needs of this vulnerable population," the authors write.

Authors of the study report partial compensation and one author expects research funding from the Corporation for Supportive Housing.

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