Homelessness and inadequate housing are major causes of unnecessary hospitalizations, according to a study by University of Hawaiʻi researchers.
The study, “I Need my Own Place to get Better”: Patient Perspectives on the Role of Housing in Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations, is from an ongoing project to understand and reduce potentially preventable hospitalizations for diabetes and heart disease in Hawaiʻi.
Principal investigator and Office of Public Health Studies Associate Professor Tetine Sentell, says, “We were interested in patient perspectives on the role of housing as contributing to their potentially preventable hospitalization.”
Said Michelle Quensell, lead author of the study and a UH public health graduate, “We talked to 90 patients, and almost 25 percent reported a housing-related issue as a major factor in hospitalization. About half of these patients were homeless, noting the high cost of housing in Hawaiʻi.”
“Patients said it was hard to care for their diabetes or heart disease when they were living without amenities such as refrigeration, running water, a stove or a safe place to store medications,” added Sentell. “Patients also mentioned challenges of following diet plans when canned goods were the only available foods at the shelters and food banks.”
Several major health providers in Hawaiʻi have recently created innovative new programs to address social determinants, including housing, within the health care setting to improve health care quality and reduce health care costs. This research strongly supports these efforts.