Clinical management of Type II Diabetes among the unstably housed: a qualitative study of primary care physicians

Mariana L Henry, Judith H Lichtman, Kendra Hanlon, Danya E Keene
Family Practice 2019 November 28

BACKGROUND: Housing is a growing challenge for US adults in an increasingly unaffordable housing market. These housing challenges can create barriers to effective management and control of Type II Diabetes. However, little is known about how housing challenges are perceived and navigated by clinicians who care for patients with Type II Diabetes.

OBJECTIVE: To examine how primary care clinicians perceive and navigate their patients' housing challenges in the context of Type II Diabetes management.

METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 18 primary care clinicians practising in four clinical settings in New Haven, Connecticut. Two investigators systematically coded the interviews. Analysis of coded data was used to determine themes.

RESULTS: Participants considered housing as significant to their patients' health and a potential barrier to optimal diabetes management. Participants sought to improve their patients' housing through advocacy, referrals and interdisciplinary collaborations. They also adjusted clinical decisions to adapt to patients' housing challenges. In making clinical adjustments, participants struggled to find a balance between what they perceived to be feasible for unstably housed patients and maintaining a standard of care. Some participants navigated this balanced by employing creative strategies and individualized care.

CONCLUSION: In highlighting the challenges that clinicians face in maintaining a standard of care for unstably housed diabetes patients, our findings speak to the need for more guidance, resources and support to address housing in a clinical setting.

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