Medicines prescribing for homeless persons: analysis of prescription data from specialist homelessness general practices

Aleena Khan, Om Kurmi, Richard Lowrie, Saval Khanal, Vibhu Paudyal

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Background: Specialist homelessness practices remain the main primary care access point for many persons experiencing homelessness. Prescribing practices are poorly understood in this population. Objective: This study aims to investigate prescribing of medicines to homeless persons who present to specialist homelessness primary care practices and compares the data with the general population. Setting: Analyses of publicly available prescribing and demographics data pertaining to primary care in England. Methods: Prescribing data from 15 specialist homelessness practices in England were extracted for the period 04/2019-03/2020 and compared with data from (a) general populations, (b) the most deprived populations, and (c) the least deprived populations in England. Main outcome measure: Prescribing rates, measured as the number of items/1000 population in key disease areas. Results: Data corresponding to 20,572 homeless persons was included. Marked disparity were observed in regards to prescribing rates of drugs for Central Nervous System disorders. For example, prescribing rates were 83-fold (mean (SD) 1296.7(1447.6) vs. 15.7(9.2) p = 0.033) items), and 12-fold (p = 0.018) higher amongst homeless populations for opioid dependence and psychosis disorders respectively compared to the general populations. Differences with populations in the least deprived populations were even higher. Prescribing medicines for other long-term conditions other than mental health and substance misuse was lower in the homeless than in the general population. Conclusions: Most of the prescribing activities in the homeless population relate to mental health conditions and substance misuse. It is possible that other long-term conditions that overlap with homelessness are under-diagnosed and under-managed. Wide variations in data across practices needs investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-724
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number3
Early online date23 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Homelessness
  • inequality
  • prescribing

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