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Engaging Homeless Veterans in Primary Care

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
VA Office of Research and Development Identifier:
First received: March 5, 2009
Last updated: June 9, 2016
Last verified: June 2016
The objectives of this study are to test an evidence-based model for improving primary and preventive care engagement among homeless Veterans not currently receiving care and to demonstrate the additive benefit of primary care-based treatment engagement by this population.

Condition Intervention
Homeless Persons
Behavioral: RN Brief Intervention
Behavioral: Social Worker Outreach

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Health Services Research
Official Title: Engaging Homeless Veterans in Primary Care

Further study details as provided by VA Office of Research and Development:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Receipt of Primary Care at the VA [ Time Frame: within 4 weeks of intervention ]
    The primary aim of this study was to conduct a randomized controlled trial of different interventions aimed at increasing rates of treatment engagement among a community sample of treatment-naive homeless veterans.

Enrollment: 221
Study Start Date: October 2009
Study Completion Date: March 2014
Primary Completion Date: October 2012 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Personal Health Assessment/RN Brief Intervention
RN-based medical outreach, administration of a personal health assessment and brief intervention
Behavioral: RN Brief Intervention
RN administered personal health assessment along with a brief intervention for behavior change administered to homeless veterans in the community
Placebo Comparator: Social Work-Administered Outreach
Social work based outreach (usual care)
Behavioral: Social Worker Outreach
Social worker will encounter homeless veteran in the community and encourage to come to the VA for care

Detailed Description:

One out of three homeless men and nearly one quarter of all homeless adults are Veterans. This translates to almost 200,000 Veterans being homeless on any given night. The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is a major service provider to homeless persons and has developed several very successful and innovative programs that have been effective in securing housing, economic stability and needed services for these men and women. However, despite these efforts in many communities, Veterans are not accessing these services despite aggressive outreach and state-of-the art programming. The investigators are conducting a prospective randomized controlled trial to test the hypothesis that a personalized health assessment linked to community outreach is more likely to both engage the homeless Veteran in a primary care based chronic disease management model and to sustain that care and associated behavior changes necessary to exit homelessness. The key questions to be addressed in this study are: (1) Will a community-based health-oriented outreach increase health seeking behavior in the intervention group?; (2) can initial engagement be sustained in a continuity care model in this population?; (3) will this intervention facilitate changes/improvements in health seeking behavior that include participation in substance abuse treatment care, compliance with mental health care, and enrollment in VA-based employment/financial support programs?; and (4) can this intervention impact chronic disease management of key cardiovascular risk indicators that disproportionately affect homeless persons?; and (5) do any observed changes correlate with serial behavioral measures and qualitative assessments?

The investigators' working hypothesis is that a targeted outreach to homeless persons that capitalizes on either established or newly realized physical health concerns to affect both health seeking behavior and sustained behavior change. It is grounded in two complementary behavioral models: the Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations and the body of research describing intrinsic versus extrinsic motivators for sustained behavior change.

Two hundred and eighty homeless Veterans will be randomized to receive either a personalized health assessment based outreach or usual care (social work/housing focused) outreach. Baseline assessments will include demographics, medical, mental health and substance use co-morbidities, pre-intervention health seeking behavior, readiness for behavior change (URICA), motivation for health care. Serial assessments at months 1, and 6 will assess evolving readiness and motivation as well as changes in their homeless status (sheltering, employment/income, etc.) Actual utilization of services will be assessed using the CPRS electronic medical records.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • VA eligible
  • currently homeless

Exclusion Criteria:

  • cognitively impaired
  • not planning on staying in area for next 6 months
  • currently enrolled in VA primary care
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00858507

United States, Rhode Island
VA Medical Center, Providence
Providence, Rhode Island, United States, 02908-4799
Sponsors and Collaborators
VA Office of Research and Development
Principal Investigator: Thomas P O'Toole, MD VA Medical Center, Providence