Homelessness and health-related outcomes: an umbrella review of observational studies and randomized controlled trials

Michele Fornaro, Elena Dragioti, Michele De Prisco, Martina Billeci, Anna Maria Mondin, Raffaella Calati, Lee Smith, Simon Hatcher, Mark Kaluzienski, Jess G. Fiedorowicz, Marco Solmi, Andrea de Bartolomeis, André F. Carvalho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Homelessness has been associated with multiple detrimental health outcomes across observational studies. However, relatively few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been conducted on people who experience homelessness (PEH). Thus, this umbrella review ranked the credibility of evidence derived from systematic reviews (SRs) and meta-analyses (MAs) of observational studies investigating the associations between homelessness and any health outcome as well as RCTs targeting health needs in this population. Methods: Several databases were systematically searched from inception through April 28, 2021. Any SR and/or MA reporting quantitative data and providing a control group were eligible for inclusion. The credibility of the evidence derived from observational studies was appraised by considering the significance level of the association and the largest study, the degree of heterogeneity, the presence of small-study effects as well as excess significance bias. The credibility of evidence was then ranked in five classes. For SRs and/or MAs of RCTs, we considered the level of significance and whether the prediction interval crossed the null. The AMSTAR-2 and AMSTAR-plus instruments were adopted to further assess the methodological quality of SRs and/or MAs. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) was employed to further appraise the methodological quality of prospective cohort studies only; a sensitivity analysis limited to higher quality studies was conducted. Results: Out of 1549 references, 8 MAs and 2 SRs were included. Among those considering observational studies, 23 unique associations were appraised. Twelve of them were statistically significant at the p≤0.005 level. Included cases had worst health-related outcomes than controls, but only two associations reached a priori-defined criteria for convincing (class I) evidence namely hospitalization due to any cause among PEH diagnosed with HIV infection, and the occurrence of falls within the past year among PEH. According to the AMSTAR-2 instrument, the methodological quality of all included SRs and/or MAs was “critically low.” Interventional studies were scant. Conclusion: While homelessness has been repeatedly associated with detrimental health outcomes, only two associations met the criteria for convincing evidence. Furthermore, few RCTs were appraised by SRs and/or MAs. Our umbrella review also highlights the need to standardize definitions of homelessness to be incorporated by forthcoming studies to improve the external validity of the findings in this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number224
JournalBMC Medicine
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Health outcomes
  • Homeless
  • Severe mental illness
  • Umbrella review

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