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Barriers to Optimal Health for Under 5s Experiencing Homelessness and Living In Temporary Accommodation in High-Income Countries: A Scoping Review

Rosenthal, DM; Lewis, C; Heys, M; Schoenthaler, AM; Ucci, M; Hayward, A; Lakhanpaul, M; (2021) Barriers to Optimal Health for Under 5s Experiencing Homelessness and Living In Temporary Accommodation in High-Income Countries: A Scoping Review. Annals of Public Health and Research , 8 (1) , Article 1103. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The first 5 years of life are crucial for optimising growth, health, and cognitive development. However, many children do not reach their full cognitive and developmental potential because of multilevel barriers, including those resulting from poverty and homelessness. This review summarises the evidence characterising the barriers to achieving optimal health and cognitive outcomes, and to accessing health services for homeless children younger than 5 years of age (U5s)-one of the most vulnerable populations in High Income Countries (HICs). METHODS: For this scoping review, we followed the PRISMA-ScR checklist and CATS framework. We searched Medline, PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, OVID Maternity and Infant Care, and The Cochrane Library (publications dates from Jan 1, 1980, to Jun 23, 2020) using the key words “homelessness”, “housing”, “paediatrics”, “interpersonal relations”, “social exclusion”, “toddler”, “children under 5”, “engagement”, and “communication and insecurity”. The search strategy yielded 3253 articles. Retrieved articles were organised by study design. Because of the considerable heterogeneity of methods and outcomes, we used a narrative synthesis analytic approach. Our outcome of interest was barriers to optimal health and accessing health services, focusing on U5s living in HICs. FINDINGS: Twenty-nine full texts were selected in the final synthesis, including primary research studies and systematic or narrative reviews of primary research studies from HICs. There was limited evidence describing links among housing insecurity, health, and cognitive outcomes in U5s. This age group was rarely studied as a discrete group and often combined with older ages (eg, ≤25 years). The quality of articles varied greatly because of the heterogeneity in study design. Nevertheless, important themes were identified: barriers were described at the individual and family level (eg, ethnicity, immigration status, and fear), system level (eg, policies, poor access to medication, absence of care plan, and no insurance) and community level (eg, transportation limitations and poor housing conditions). INTERPRETATION: Although evidence is sparse, further methodologically rigorous research is needed to identify what barriers exist for U5s and their parents in accessing health services, and how this affects the child’s health. The multi-level nature of these barriers implies a system’s approach may be required. However, more evidence is needed including cross-sector studies and tailored interventions to address these barriers by working directly with experts with experience of social exclusion and their children.

Type: Article
Title: Barriers to Optimal Health for Under 5s Experiencing Homelessness and Living In Temporary Accommodation in High-Income Countries: A Scoping Review
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.jscimedcentral.com/PublicHealth/public...
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10134291
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