Homeless health care: meeting the challenges of providing primary care

Andrew Davies and Lisa J Wood
Med J Aust 2018; 209 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/mja17.01264
Published online: 3 September 2018



  • People experiencing homelessness have multiple complex health conditions yet are typically disengaged from primary health care services and place a significant burden on the acute health system.
  • Barriers preventing people who are homeless from accessing primary care can be both personal and practical and include competing needs and priorities, illness and poor health, physical access to health services, difficulty in contacting services, medication security, and the affordability of health care. Differences in social status and perceptions of being judged can lead to relationship barriers to accessing primary care.
  • Key solutions include prioritising access to stable housing, continuity of health care, specialised homeless general practice, hospital inreach, discharge planning and coordinated care, general practice outreach, and medical recovery centres.


  • Andrew Davies1
  • Lisa J Wood2

  • 1 Homeless Healthcare, Perth, WA
  • 2 University of Western Australia, Perth, WA



We thank Angela Gazey, Nuala Chapple and Jake Smith from the School of Population and Global Health, University of Western Australia, for their assistance in the preparation of this publication.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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