Research Update #3 – Findings and Holes in Published Research

Throughout this study, 186 sources were analyzed, 62 of which were for homeless children and youth, 48 for homeless adults, 30 for the homeless elderly, and 46 for homeless veterans. These sources were classified as being direct or indirect. Direct sources were those in which the primary goal of the literature corresponded to the specific homeless subpopulation and the disease of study. Indirect sources included those that related to disease specific factors and/or sources with a secondary goal of analyzing the subpopulation and disease. All subpopulations except the elderly had a majority of direct sources. In the past, researchers neglected the homeless elderly population through their research. With an average of only 1.5 direct studies per disease, little effort has gone into investigating the burden of disease among such a vulnerable population. Similarly, though MH had a majority of direct sources (62%), that proportion is still 27-38% lower than the other subpopulations for MH illnesses. Continually, across all subpopulations, asthma, diabetes, and obesity were discussed less as the average numbers of direct sources were 1, 2, and 2 respectively. Furthermore, these diseases only had 23, 24, and 22 total sources compared to the other diseases which had a range of 35-44 total publications. Thus, previous research has failed to understand these diseases among the identified homeless cohorts.

More qualitatively, common factors discussed throughout the literature range from the role of the economy to supportive housing, food insecurity, victimization and trauma, social networks, and adverse childhood experiences. The role of families was prevalent throughout research regarding homeless children and youth, and analyses of geriatric conditions were common for older homeless adults.