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Journal of Ambulatory Care Management:
Article

Health Status of a Low‐income Vulnerable Population in a Community Health Center

Cashman, Suzanne ScD; Savageau, Judith MPH; McMullen, Maureen DNSc, RNC; Kinney, Rebecca MPH; Lemay, Celeste RN, BSN; Anthes, Frances MSW

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Abstract

Healthcare safety net providers are under increasing pressure to meet the physical and mental health—as well as the range of social service—needs of traditionally vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations. The extent to which health center patients are less well and in poorer health than is the rest of society, thus requiring greater depth and breadth of service, has not generally been the focus of systematic assessment. This case study uses the 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12) and selected years of healthy life questions from the National Health Interview Survey to assess the self-perceived health status of patients at one Section 330 community health center in central Massachusetts. Five hundred thirteen patients completed all questions on the SF-12; 619 completed each of the years of healthy life questions. Respondents' physical and mental component summary scores were significantly lower than national norms for all age groups (P < .001). Respondents were also significantly more likely than the civilian noninstitutionalized population to be unable to perform major activities (P < .0001) and to be in fair or poor health (P < .0001). Analyses give an indication of the magnitude of difference in self-perceived health status between this poor, vulnerable population and the citizenry at large and suggest implications for policy related to safety net healthcare facilities.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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