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Palliative care for homeless and vulnerably housed people: scoping review and thematic synthesis


Introduction People who are homeless or vulnerably housed are subject to disproportionately high risks of physical and mental illness and are further disadvantaged by difficulties in access to services. Research has been conducted examining a wide range of issues in relation to end-of-life care for homeless and vulnerably housed people, however, a contemporary scoping review of this literature is lacking.

Objectives To understand the provision of palliative care for people who are homeless or vulnerably housed from the perspective of, and for the benefit of, all those who should be involved in its provision.

Design Scoping review with thematic synthesis of qualitative and quantitative literature.

Data sources MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, Social Policy and Practice and CINAHL databases were searched, from inception to May 2020. Citation chasing and manual searching of grey literature were also employed.

Results Sixty-four studies, involving 2117 homeless and vulnerably housed people were included, with wide variation in methodology, population and perspective. The thematic synthesis identified three themes around: experiences, beliefs and wishes; relationships; and end-of-life care.

Conclusion Discussion highlighted gaps in the evidence base, especially around people experiencing different types of homelessness. Existing evidence advocates for service providers to offer needs-based and non-judgemental care, for organisations to use existing assets in co-producing services, and for researchers to address gaps in the evidence base, and to work with providers in transforming existing knowledge into evaluable action.

  • cultural issues
  • communication

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