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Change in Homeless and Health Services Use Following Migration Among Veterans with Experience of Homelessness.

DeRussy A, Byrne T, Nelson R, Richman J, Montgomery AE. Change in Homeless and Health Services Use Following Migration Among Veterans with Experience of Homelessness. Journal of general internal medicine. 2023 Sep 1; 38(12):2655-2661.

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BACKGROUND: Homelessness is associated with poor health outcomes, including lack of access to care. Homelessness experienced in rural areas is understudied but likely associated with difficulty accessing needed services. Prior studies have assessed the extent to which Veterans experiencing homelessness in rural areas "migrate" to urban areas, but have not focused on changes in services utilization following migration. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether Veterans with a history of homelessness experience changes in the use of homeless and health services following a migration from a rural to urban residence, and vice versa, and to assess the magnitude of those changes. DESIGN: Longitudinal retrospective analysis of services use among Veterans identified as experiencing homelessness and migrating at least 40 miles or from an urban to a rural area or vice versa. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 81,620 Veterans with incident homelessness who experienced a migration and for whom we could establish 2 quarters of both pre-migration and post-migration service utilization. MAIN MEASURES: In addition to sociodemographic and health-related factors, we assessed index location and destination using geographic descriptors both residential address and Veteran Affairs (VA) facility where Veterans were identified as experiencing homelessness. Outcomes included continuous measures of homeless services and outpatient care and dichotomous measures of emergency department use and inpatient admissions. KEY RESULTS: Regardless of a Veteran''s index location, migration to or within a rural area was associated with a significant decrease in the number of homeless and outpatient services and reduced risk of emergency department use or inpatient admission relative to migration to or within an urban area. CONCLUSION: Controlling for sociodemographic and health-related factors, Veterans experiencing homelessness who had a residential migration to or within a rural area had a significant reduction in their use of VA health and homeless services compared to those who migrated to or within an urban area.

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