Health status of marginalised young people in unstable accommodation.

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Journal Article
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2017, pp. ? - ? (5)
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AIM: More than 26 000 Australians aged 12-24 years experience homelessness, yet data on the health status of homeless youth remain limited. The aim of this study was to describe the health of young people attending a youth health service in Western Sydney who were experiencing homelessness. METHODS: Retrospective case note review for clients aged 12-25 years attending Youth Health Services in Western Sydney. Extracted data included: homelessness status; demographics; physical health issues; mental health issues; involvement with juvenile justice; and disengagement from education or employment. RESULTS: Just under half of the 180 clients attending a Youth Health Service in Western Sydney were homeless, and an additional 15 young people who were not currently homeless nominated homelessness as a presenting issue. In comparison with currently domiciled young people, homeless youth were less likely to have a regular general practitioner and more likely to nominate a physical health concern as a presenting issue, although there was no difference between groups in terms of diagnosed mental or physical health conditions. Considered as a whole, the sample showed high rates of acute physical symptoms, physical trauma, psychological distress and self-harm. CONCLUSIONS: Youth homelessness is associated with risk of both poor physical and mental health. As much of youth homelessness is hidden, health-care providers need to ensure that they inquire about homelessness status, and have an awareness of potentially complex multi-morbidities in the physical and mental health of young marginalised people presenting to health services.
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