Serious Illness and End-of-Life Care in the Homeless: Examining a Service System and a Call for Action for Social Work


  • Jennifer Davis-Berman University of Dayton, Dept. of Sociology Anthropology and Social Work


homeless, healthcare, end-of-life-care


This article reports on a qualitative study done in a medium sized Midwestern city in the United States that attempted to understand and examine the service network for the provision of healthcare for serious illness and end-of-life care for the homeless. Ten key informants representing critical healthcare services and facilities providing service to low income and homeless populations were interviewed. Two women and two men residing in the homeless shelter were also interviewed.  Based on these in-depth interviews, the following themes were identified and presented for analysis: Lack of services for serious, chronic and life threatening illness, Barriers to access to services, Stigma, and End-of-life care. Implications for social work practice were presented and discussed.