Home > A review of a GP registrar-run mobile health clinic for homeless people.

O'Carroll, Austin and Irving, N and O'Neill, J and Flanagan, E (2017) A review of a GP registrar-run mobile health clinic for homeless people. Irish Journal of Medical Science, 186, (3), pp. 541-546.

Background - Homeless people have excessively high morbidity and mortality rates, yet they face barriers accessing primary care. A mobile health clinic, staffed by GP registrars, was developed to provide services to homeless people, particularly rough sleepers and sex workers.


Aim - The aims were to improve access to primary care and to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices of GP registrars through direct contact with homeless people.


Design and Setting - This was a qualitative study; questionnaires were completed on the mobile health clinic and two focus groups were conducted.


Methods - All service users were asked to complete a questionnaire over a 3 month period. Two focus groups were conducted with 6 and 14 GP registrars who had worked on the bus.


Results - There was an 80% response rate (116 of 145). Fifty-two percent had no Medical Card meaning that they had no way to access the free primary care to which they are entitled. Had the clinic not been available, over half would not have sought further treatment and 16% would have gone to an Emergency Department. Ninety-one percent of users rated the service 10/10. The focus groups found that GP registrars who worked on the mobile health clinic had decreased negative stereotypes, increased empathy, and more knowledge of homeless issues. Furthermore, they intended to ensure that homeless people will not face discrimination in their future practice.


Conclusion - A GP Registrar-run Mobile Health Clinic achieved its aims of improving access to primary care for rough sleepers and sex workers, and challenging stereotypes of GP Registrars.

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