Primary Care-Based Housing Program Can Cut Health Care Use
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Primary Care-Based Housing Program Can Cut Health Care Use

Patients in the program who obtained new housing reported mental and physical health benefits

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 7, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- A primary care-based housing program can improve health care use, reducing primary care and outpatient visits, according to a study published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

MaryCatherine Arbour, M.D., M.P.H., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a mixed-methods evaluation of a primary care-based housing program in Boston for 1,139 patients with housing-related needs that extend beyond homelessness.

The researchers observed associations between program participation and utilization of health care. Compared with those who were not enrolled, patients enrolled in the program between October 2018 and March 2021 had 2.5 fewer primary care visits and 3.6 fewer outpatient visits per year, including fewer social work, behavioral health, psychiatry, and urgent care visits. Mental and physical health benefits were reported by patients in the program who obtained new housing; stronger connections to health care providers were expressed by some participants. For many patients, improvements in mental health were attributed to compassionate support provided by the program's housing advocates.

"Such interventions hold promise for redressing health inequities, for restoring dignity, and -- if patient voice is centered -- for rebuilding trust between historically marginalized populations and their health care institutions," the authors write.

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