Lack of Gender Differences in Prevalence of Homelessness in the Emergency Department.

Publication/Presentation Date



Background: Concordant with the NIH policy on the inclusion of women in clinical research, and their support of analyses that address potential sex and gender differences, researchers are focusing more on assessing outcomes by sex.

Objective(s): We set out to assess gender differences in the prevalence of homelessness in the Emergency Department (ED).

Material/Methods: From 5/2015-2/2016, ED patients were approached to take a five-question homelessness screening survey. To participate, patients had to be: 18 years or older, speak English, have capacity, not be critically ill, and be willing to participate.

Results: 4494 subjects met inclusion criteria; 99 surveys were excluded (took the survey before). 4395 subjects were analyzed. The mean age of subjects was 50.8 years (SD 20.5) and 2,557 (58.2%) were women. No difference in the rate of homelessness was observed between male and female participants with 135 men out of 1,835 (7.4%) and 173 out of 2,557 (6.8%) women screening positive, (p = 0.472). The mean age of those screening positive for homelessness was 40.9 years (SD 15.9); the mean age of men screening positive was 42.4 years (SD = 16.2) and women was 43.7 years (SD 16.9). Both men (N = 41) and women (N = 40) admitted they had slept outside, in an abandoned building, in their car, a shelter or a motel due to financial hardship.

Conclusions: We did not observe differences in the rate of homelessness between men and women who screened positive for homelessness in the ED. These data combat stereotypes that this social issue is a problem primarily affecting male populations. Public health interventions aimed at homeless populations should be cognizant that both genders are dealing with this burden. A deeper understanding of the demographics of homelessness may allow for better access to medical treatment since women have different health care needs than men.





First Page



Emergency Medicine


Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine Faculty

Document Type