Access to Primary Health Care Services for Youth Experiencing Homelessness: “You shouldn’t need a health card to be healthy.”

On any given night, thousands of Canadian youth face homelessness in either absolute (living on the street) or relative (couch surfing, staying in emergency shelters) terms (Gaetz, Dej, Richter, & Redman, 2016). This study explores influences on primary health care access among youth experiencing homelessness in a large Canadian urban centre. Using a qualitative research design and critical social justice lens, eight youth participated in individual interviews and four expert clinicians participated in a facilitated, solution-focused dialogue about access to primary health care services for youth experiencing homelessness. Themes identified were: (1) Youth experiencing homelessness feel powerless when interacting with health care providers, (2) Health care systems exist as rule-based bureaucracies, and (3) Youth experiencing homelessness are in survival mode when it comes to accessing health care services. The authors offer recommendations to foster equitable access to primary health care services for youth experiencing homelessness. 

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The Canadian Journal of Critic Nursing Discourse