Serving Our Homeless Veterans: Patient Perpetrated Violence as a Barrier to Health Care Access

Luz M. Semeah, Colleen L. Campbell, Diane C. Cowper, Amanda C. Peet


In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) set a goal to end veteran homelessness by 2015. Since then there has been a 36% reduction in homelessness due, in part, to the VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. These services include the receipt of home-based services to the veterans’ home. However, safety concerns and the threat of violence toward health care workers remain problematic in non-institutional care settings. This article discusses the concept of access to care and how safety concerns act as a barrier to services and optimal patient outcomes. Our study provides information on the prevalence of patient violence toward health care workers in the HUD-VASH program in a large veterans’ health system. Results suggest 70% of home-based service providers were exposed to violence and aggression. Providing services to veterans outside of institutional care settings, and the goal of eradicating homelessness among veterans, warrants further examination of access barriers.


Homeless Veterans; Access; HUD-VASH; Patient Perpetrated Violence

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