Entete 3

Multimorbidity in an Australian street health service

By Tom Brett
The Freo Street Doctor service is a free, primary care–based, mobile health clinic that has been operating in Fremantle, Western Australia since 2005. It operates from various locations in and around Fremantle, offering homeless and disadvantaged patients access to an accredited general practice service. It is serviced by a number of general practitioners, nurses, social workers and Aboriginal health workers as well as collaborating with numerous ancillary services to improve the health and circumstances of marginalised patients in this population group.
We report on a total of 4285 patients who attended the service over a 10 year period [1]. We found multimorbidity to be associated with increasing age, male sex and Aboriginality. An important finding from our study is the high Aboriginal attendance, comprising 31.5% of the total cohort (with 50.8% female). This attendance ratio is in sharp contrast with the <2% Aboriginal patients attending mainstream GP clinics Australia-wide.
Our research shows that multimorbidity is increasing over the past decade and presents as chronic physical and mental health problems in these marginalised, street health patients. These patients are at increased risk of ongoing neglect unless provided with a no-cost, multidisciplinary approach capable of delivering health and social services in a non-judgemental, comfortable and secure environment.
The progressive increase in attendance by young, especially Aboriginal, patients over the past decade, and the positive feedback from patients and allied services attending the Freo Street Doctor, make compelling arguments that this accredited, general practice–based service is addressing important health and social needs in an environment where they are clearly needed.
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1. Arnold-Reed D, Troeung L,  Brett T, Chan She Ping-Delfos W, Strange C, Geelhoed E, Fischer C,  Preen D. Increasing multimorbidity in an Australian street health service – a 10 year retrospective cohort study. AJGP. 2018; 47 (4): 181-189.

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