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1.
Health Soc Care Community ; 2022 May 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1832070

ABSTRACT

The effects of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the lives of underserved populations are underexplored. This study aimed to identify the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health responses on the health and social well-being, and food security of users of Housing First (HF) services in Toronto (Canada) during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This qualitative descriptive study was conducted from July to October 2020 in a subsample of 20 adults with a history of homelessness and serious mental disorders who were receiving HF services in Toronto. A semi-structured interview guide was used to collect narrative data regarding health and social well-being, food security and access to health, social and preventive services. A thematic analysis framework guided analyses and interpretation of the data. The COVID-19 pandemic and response measures had a variable impact on the health, social well-being and food security of participants. Around 40% of participants were minimally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Conversely, among the remaining participants (impacted group), some experienced onset of new mental health problems (anxiety, stress, paranoia) or exacerbation of pre-existing mental disorders (depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder). They also struggled with isolation and loneliness and had limited leisure activities and access to food goods. The pandemic also contributed to disparities in accessing and receiving healthcare services and treatment continuity for non-COVID-19 health issues for the negatively impacted participants. Overall, most participants were able to adhere to COVID-19 public health measures and get reliable information on COVID-19 preventive measures facilitated by having access to the phone, internet and media devices and services. In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated response measures impacted the health, social well-being, leisure and food security of people with experiences of homelessness and mental disorders who use supportive social and housing services in diverse ways.

2.
J Gen Intern Med ; 37(8): 2016-2025, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1782930

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Hospitalizations fell precipitously among the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic. It remains unclear whether individuals experiencing homelessness experienced similar reductions. OBJECTIVE: To examine how overall and cause-specific hospitalizations changed among individuals with a recent history of homelessness (IRHH) and their housed counterparts during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, using corresponding weeks in 2019 as a historical control. DESIGN: Population-based cohort study conducted in Ontario, Canada, between September 30, 2018, and September 26, 2020. PARTICIPANTS: In total, 38,617 IRHH, 15,022,368 housed individuals, and 186,858 low-income housed individuals matched on age, sex, rurality, and comorbidity burden. MAIN MEASURES: Primary outcomes included medical-surgical, non-elective (overall and cause-specific), elective surgical, and psychiatric hospital admissions. KEY RESULTS: Average rates of medical-surgical (rate ratio: 3.8, 95% CI: 3.7-3.8), non-elective (10.3, 95% CI: 10.1-10.4), and psychiatric admissions (128.1, 95% CI: 126.1-130.1) between January and September 2020 were substantially higher among IRHH compared to housed individuals. During the peak period (March 17 to June 16, 2020), rates of medical-surgical (0.47, 95% CI: 0.47-0.47), non-elective (0.80, 95% CI: 0.79-0.80), and psychiatric admissions (0.86, 95% CI: 0.84-0.88) were significantly lower among housed individuals relative to equivalent weeks in 2019. No significant changes were observed among IRHH. During the re-opening period (June 17-September 26, 2020), rates of non-elective hospitalizations for liver disease (1.41, 95% CI: 1.23-1.69), kidney disease (1.29, 95% CI: 1.14-1.47), and trauma (1.19, 95% CI: 1.07-1.32) increased substantially among IRHH but not housed individuals. Distinct hospitalization patterns were observed among IRHH even in comparison with more medically and socially vulnerable matched housed individuals. CONCLUSIONS: Persistence in overall hospital admissions and increases in non-elective hospitalizations for liver disease, kidney disease, and trauma indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges for recently homeless individuals. Health systems must better address the needs of this population during public health crises.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Homeless Persons , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cohort Studies , Homeless Persons/psychology , Hospitalization , Humans , Ontario/epidemiology , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies
3.
Healthc Policy ; 17(3): 34-41, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1761265

ABSTRACT

Among those visiting a testing centre in Toronto, ON, between March and April 2020, people experiencing homelessness (n = 214) were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared with those not experiencing homelessness (n = 1,836) even after adjustment for age, sex and medical co-morbidity (15.4% vs. 6.7%, p < 0.001; odds ratio [OR] 2.41, 95% confidence interval [CI: 1.51, 3.76], p < 0.001).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Homeless Persons , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , Odds Ratio , Social Problems
4.
Lancet Public Health ; 7(4): e366-e377, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1730182

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: People experiencing homelessness face a high risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission, as well as health complications and death due to COVID-19. Despite being prioritised for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in many regions, little data are available on vaccine uptake in this vulnerable population. Using population-based health-care administrative data from Ontario, Canada-a region with a universal, publicly funded health system-we aimed to describe COVID-19 vaccine coverage (ie, the estimated percentage of people who have received a vaccine) and determinants of vaccine receipt among individuals with a recent history of homelessness. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective, population-based cohort study of adults (aged ≥18 years) with a recent experience of homelessness, inadequate housing, or shelter use as recorded in routinely collected health-care databases between June 14, 2020, and June 14, 2021 (a period within 6 months of Dec 14, 2020, when COVID-19 vaccine administration was initiated in Ontario). Participants were followed up from Dec 14, 2020, to Sept 30, 2021, for the receipt of one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine using the province's real-time centralised vaccine information system. We described COVID-19 vaccine coverage overall and within predefined subgroups. Using modified Poisson regression, we further identified sociodemographic factors, health-care usage, and clinical factors associated with receipt of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. FINDINGS: 23 247 individuals with a recent history of homelessness were included in this study. Participants were predominantly male (14 752 [63·5%] of 23 247); nearly half were younger than 40 years (11 521 [49·6%]) and lived in large metropolitan regions (12 123 [52·2%]); and the majority (18 226 [78·4%]) visited a general practitioner for an in-person consultation during the observation period. By Sept 30, 2021, 14 271 (61·4%; 95% CI 60·8-62·0) individuals with a recent history of homelessness had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 11 082 (47·7%; 47·0-48·3) had received two doses; in comparison, over the same period, 86·6% of adults in the total Ontario population had received a first dose and 81·6% had received a second dose. In multivariable analysis, factors positively associated with COVID-19 uptake were one or more outpatient visits to a general practitioner (adjusted risk ratio [aRR] 1·37 [95% CI 1·31-1·42]), older age (50-59 years vs 18-29 years: 1·18 [1·14-1·22], ≥60 years vs 18-29 years: 1·27 [1·22-1·31]), receipt of an influenza vaccine in either of the two previous influenza seasons (1·25 [1·23-1·28]), being identified as homeless via a visit to a community health centre versus exclusively a hospital-based encounter (1·13 [1·10-1·15]), receipt of one or more SARS-CoV-2 tests between March 1, 2020, and Sept 30, 2021 (1·23 [1·20-1·26]), and the presence of chronic health conditions (one condition: 1·05 [1·03-1·08]; two or more conditions: 1·11 [1·08-1·14]). By contrast, living in a smaller metropolitan region (aRR 0·92 [95% CI 0·90-0·94]) or rural location (0·93 [0·90-0·97]) versus large metropolitan regions were associated with lower uptake. INTERPRETATION: In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine coverage among adults with a recent history of homelessness has lagged and, as of Sept 30, 2021, was 25 percentage points lower than that of the general adult population in Ontario for a first dose and 34 percentage points lower for a second dose. With high usage of outpatient health services among individuals with a recent history of homelessness, better utilisation of outpatient primary care structures might offer an opportunity to increase vaccine coverage in this population. Our findings underscore the importance of leveraging existing health and service organisations that are accessed and trusted by people who experience homelessness for targeted vaccine delivery. FUNDING: The Public Health Agency of Canada. TRANSLATION: For the French translation of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Homeless Persons , Vaccines , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Cohort Studies , Humans , Male , Ontario/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2
5.
Can J Public Health ; 113(1): 117-125, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1675363

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: People experiencing homelessness are at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. This study reports the point prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection during testing conducted at sites serving people experiencing homelessness in Toronto during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also explored the association between site characteristics and prevalence rates. METHODS: The study included individuals who were staying at shelters, encampments, COVID-19 physical distancing sites, and drop-in and respite sites and completed outreach-based testing for SARS-CoV-2 during the period April 17 to July 31, 2020. We examined test positivity rates over time and compared them to rates in the general population of Toronto. Negative binomial regression was used to examine the relationship between each shelter-level characteristic and SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates. We also compared the rates across 3 time periods (T1: April 17-April 25; T2: April 26-May 23; T3: May 24-June 25). RESULTS: The overall prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was 8.5% (394/4657). Site-specific rates showed great heterogeneity with infection rates ranging from 0% to 70.6%. Compared to T1, positivity rates were 0.21 times lower (95% CI: 0.06-0.75) during T2 and 0.14 times lower (95% CI: 0.04-0.44) during T3. Most cases were detected during outbreak testing (384/394 [97.5%]) rather than active case finding. CONCLUSION: During the first wave of the pandemic, rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection at sites for people experiencing homelessness in Toronto varied significantly over time. The observation of lower rates at certain sites may be attributable to overall time trends, expansion of outreach-based testing to include sites without known outbreaks, and/or individual site characteristics.


RéSUMé: OBJECTIFS: Les personnes en situation d'itinérance courent un risque accru de contracter une infection par le SRAS-CoV-2. Notre étude rend compte de la prévalence ponctuelle des infections par le SRAS-CoV-2 au cours de tests de dépistage menés dans des lieux de services aux personnes en situation d'itinérance de Toronto au cours de la première vague de la pandémie de COVID-19. Nous avons aussi exploré l'association entre les caractéristiques de ces lieux et les taux de prévalence. MéTHODE: L'étude a inclus les personnes séjournant dans des refuges, des campements, des lieux de distanciation physique et des centres d'accueil et de répit et ayant subi un test de dépistage de proximité du SRAS-CoV-2 entre le 17 avril et le 31 juillet 2020. Nous avons examiné les taux de positivité des tests au fil du temps et nous les avons comparés aux taux dans la population générale de Toronto. Des analyses de régression binomiales négatives ont été effectuées pour étudier la relation entre chaque caractéristique au niveau des refuges et les taux de positivité au SRAS-CoV-2. Nous avons aussi comparé les taux de trois intervalles (I1: 17 au 25 avril; I2: 26 avril au 23 mai; I3: 24 mai au 25 juin). RéSULTATS: La prévalence globale des infections par le SRAS-CoV-2 était de 8,5 % (394/4 657). Les taux d'infection spécifiques aux lieux de services ont présenté une grande hétérogénéité, soit de 0 % à 70,6 %. Comparés au 1er intervalle (I1), les taux de positivité ont été 0,21 fois plus faibles (IC de 95% : 0,06 ­ 0,75) durant l'I2 et 0,14 fois plus faibles (IC de 95% : 0,04 ­ 0,44) durant l'I3. La plupart des cas ont été détectés lors d'un dépistage en cours d'éclosion (384/394 [97,5%]) et non lors d'une recherche active de cas. CONCLUSION: Au cours de la première vague de la pandémie, les taux d'infection par le SRAS-CoV-2 dans les lieux de services aux personnes en situation d'itinérance de Toronto ont varié de façon significative au fil du temps. L'observation de taux plus faibles dans certains lieux pourrait s'expliquer par les tendances temporelles globales, par l'expansion des activités de dépistage de proximité pour inclure les lieux sans éclosion connue et/ou par les caractéristiques individuelles des lieux.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Homeless Persons , Humans , Pandemics , Prevalence , SARS-CoV-2
6.
Addiction ; 117(6): 1692-1701, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1672926

ABSTRACT

AIMS: To examine how weekly rates of emergency department (ED) visits for drug overdoses changed among individuals with a recent history of homelessness (IRHH) and their housed counterparts during the pre-pandemic, peak, and re-opening periods of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, using corresponding weeks in 2019 as a historical control. DESIGN: Population-based retrospective cohort study conducted between September 30, 2018 and September 26, 2020. SETTING: Ontario, Canada. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 38 617 IRHH, 15 022 369 housed individuals, and 186 858 low-income housed individuals matched on age, sex, rurality, and comorbidity burden. MEASUREMENTS: ED visits for drug overdoses of accidental and undetermined intent. FINDINGS: Average rates of ED visits for drug overdoses between January and September 2020 were higher among IRHH compared with housed individuals (rate ratio [RR], 148.0; 95% CI, 142.7-153.5) and matched housed individuals (RR, 22.3; 95% CI, 20.7-24.0). ED visits for drug overdoses decreased across all groups by ~20% during the peak period (March 17 to June 16, 2020) compared with corresponding weeks in 2019. During the re-opening period (June 17 to September 26, 2020), rates of ED visits for drug overdoses were significantly higher among IRHH (RR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.44-1.69), matched housed individuals (RR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.08-1.46), and housed individuals relative to equivalent weeks in 2019 (RR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.02-1.11). The relative increase in drug overdose ED visits among IRHH was larger compared with both matched housed individuals (P = 0.01 for interaction between group and year) and housed individuals (P < 0.001) during this period. CONCLUSIONS: Recently homeless individuals in Ontario, Canada experienced disproportionate increases in ED visits for drug overdoses during the re-opening period of the COVID-19 pandemic compared with housed people.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Homeless Persons , COVID-19/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Emergency Service, Hospital , Humans , Ontario/epidemiology , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies
8.
Fam Med Community Health ; 9(4)2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1626835

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of a one-time cash transfer of $C1000 in people who are unable to physically distance due to insufficient income. DESIGN: Open-label, multi-centre, randomised superiority trial. SETTING: Seven primary care sites in Ontario, Canada; six urban sites associated with St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and one in Manitoulin Island. PARTICIPANTS: 392 individuals who reported trouble affording basic necessities due to disruptions related to COVID-19. INTERVENTION: After random allocation, participants either received the cash transfer of $C1000 (n=196) or physical distancing guidelines alone (n=196). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was the maximum number of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 over 14 days. Secondary outcomes were meeting clinical criteria for COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 presence, number of close contacts, general health and ability to afford basic necessities. RESULTS: The primary outcome of number of symptoms reported by participants did not differ between groups after 2 weeks (cash transfer, mean 1.6 vs 1.9, ratio of means 0.83; 95% CI 0.56 to 1.24). There were no statistically significant effects on secondary outcomes of the meeting COVID-19 clinical criteria (7.9% vs 12.8%; risk difference -0.05; 95% CI -0.11 to 0.01), SARS-CoV-2 presence (0.5% vs 0.6%; risk difference 0.00 95% CI -0.02 to 0.02), mean number of close contacts (3.5 vs 3.7; rate ratio 1.10; 95% CI 0.83 to 1.46), general health very good or excellent (60% vs 63%; risk difference -0.03 95% CI -0.14 to 0.08) and ability to make ends meet (52% vs 51%; risk difference 0.01 95% CI -0.10 to 0.12). CONCLUSIONS: A single cash transfer did not reduce the COVID-19 symptoms or improve the ability to afford necessities. Further studies are needed to determine whether some groups may benefit from financial supports and to determine if a higher level of support is beneficial. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT04359264.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Financial Statements , Humans , Ontario/epidemiology , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2
9.
Canadian Medical Association. Journal ; 193(49):E1878-E1888, 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1596932

ABSTRACT

Persaud et al discuss the recommendations for equitable COVID1-19 pandemic recovery in Canada. Health inequities-or avoidable differences in health status between populations -that were exposed and exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic can be addressed through interventions and policy changes that were studied before SARS-CoV-2 spread across Canada. Racialized people, women, people with a low income, people experiencing homelessness, people who use substances and people who are incarcerated were disproportionately affected during the pandemic. Inequities that were exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19 will continue to threaten health after the pandemic. Specific interventions and changes that relate to income, housing, safety from intimate partner violence, childcare, access to health care and antiracism are known to be beneficial.

11.
Family medicine and community health ; 9(4), 2021.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1567643

ABSTRACT

Objective To evaluate the effect of a one-time cash transfer of $C1000 in people who are unable to physically distance due to insufficient income. Design Open-label, multi-centre, randomised superiority trial. Setting Seven primary care sites in Ontario, Canada;six urban sites associated with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and one in Manitoulin Island. Participants 392 individuals who reported trouble affording basic necessities due to disruptions related to COVID-19. Intervention After random allocation, participants either received the cash transfer of $C1000 (n=196) or physical distancing guidelines alone (n=196). Main outcome measures The primary outcome was the maximum number of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 over 14 days. Secondary outcomes were meeting clinical criteria for COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 presence, number of close contacts, general health and ability to afford basic necessities. Results The primary outcome of number of symptoms reported by participants did not differ between groups after 2 weeks (cash transfer, mean 1.6 vs 1.9, ratio of means 0.83;95% CI 0.56 to 1.24). There were no statistically significant effects on secondary outcomes of the meeting COVID-19 clinical criteria (7.9% vs 12.8%;risk difference −0.05;95% CI −0.11 to 0.01), SARS-CoV-2 presence (0.5% vs 0.6%;risk difference 0.00 95% CI −0.02 to 0.02), mean number of close contacts (3.5 vs 3.7;rate ratio 1.10;95% CI 0.83 to 1.46), general health very good or excellent (60% vs 63%;risk difference −0.03 95% CI −0.14 to 0.08) and ability to make ends meet (52% vs 51%;risk difference 0.01 95% CI −0.10 to 0.12). Conclusions A single cash transfer did not reduce the COVID-19 symptoms or improve the ability to afford necessities. Further studies are needed to determine whether some groups may benefit from financial supports and to determine if a higher level of support is beneficial. Trial registration number NCT04359264.

12.
Healthc Policy ; 17(1): 17-24, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1431157

ABSTRACT

The unequal social and economic burden of the COVID-19 pandemic is evident in racialized and low-income communities across Canada. Importantly, social inequities have not been adequately addressed and current public policies are not reflective of the needs of diverse populations. Public participation in decision-making is crucial and there is, therefore, a pressing need to increase diversity of representation in patient partnerships in order to prevent the further exclusion of socially marginalized groups from research and policy making. Deliberate effort and affirmative action are needed to meaningfully engage and nurture diverse patient partnerships by broadening the scope of the patient community to include excluded or underrepresented individuals or groups. This will help us co-develop ways to enhance access and equity in healthcare and prevent the systematic reproduction of structural inequalities that have already been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Biomedical Research/standards , COVID-19/therapy , Delivery of Health Care/standards , Health Equity/standards , Health Policy , Patient Selection , Research Design/standards , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Canada , Female , Guidelines as Topic , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
13.
CMAJ Open ; 9(1): E302-E308, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1159903

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: It is unclear what the best strategy is for detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) among residents of homeless shelters and what individual factors are associated with testing positive for the virus. We sought to evaluate factors associated with testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 among residents of homeless shelters and to evaluate positivity rates in shelters where testing was conducted in response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks or for surveillance. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective chart audit to obtain repeated cross-sectional data from outreach testing done at homeless shelters between Apr. 1 and July 31, 2020, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We compared the SARS-CoV-2 positivity rate for shelters where testing was conducted because of an outbreak (at least 1 known case) with those tested for surveillance (no known cases). A patient-level analysis evaluated differences in demographic, health and behavioural characteristics of residents who did and did not test positive for SARS-CoV-2 at shelters with at least 2 positive cases. RESULTS: One thousand nasopharyngeal swabs were done on 872 unique residents at 20 shelter locations. Among the 504 tests done in outbreak settings, 69 (14%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 1 (0.2%) was indeterminate. Among the 496 tests done for surveillance, 11 (2%) were positive and none were indeterminate. Shelter residents who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were significantly less likely to have a health insurance card (54% v. 72%, p = 0.03) or to have visited another shelter in the last 14 days (0% v. 18%, p < 0.01). There was no association between SARS-CoV-2 positivity and medical history or symptoms. INTERPRETATION: Our findings support testing of asymptomatic shelter residents for SARS-CoV-2 when a positive case is identified at the same shelter. Surveillance testing when there are no known positive cases may detect outbreaks, but further research should identify efficient strategies given scarce testing resources.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/diagnosis , Homeless Persons/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Child , Child, Preschool , Cross-Sectional Studies , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Insurance, Health/statistics & numerical data , Male , Middle Aged , Ontario/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Young Adult
14.
Nat Rev Dis Primers ; 7(1): 5, 2021 01 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1047959
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