Over half of homeless people suffer from chronic pain which is often undiagnosed. This finding comes from Groundswell's "Out of Pain" research, a study which looks at the extent, cause and impact of physical pain on people who are experiencing homelessness.
The research employed mixed-methods, including a literature review, focus groups, and one-to-one surveys. Groundswell's findings support the existing literature about the impact of chronic pain on people experiencing homelessness, and indicates that the pain is contributing to people becoming and remaining homeless.
Participants in the study overwhelmingly agreed that sleeping rough had had an impact on their physical health. Two thirds of them said that pain made it difficult for them to hold down a job, half said that pain had caused problems for their personal relationships, and 30% said that pain had contributed to why they had first used drugs. Nearly 40% also indicated that pain had contributed to them becoming homeless in the first place.
53% of homeless people were found to experiencing at least one long term pain condition, over four times higher than the rate of 12.5% in the general population. This conditions included arthritis (23%), chronic back pain (23%), sciatica (14%) and cluster headaches (12%).
Groundswell are campaigning to increase awareness of this problem, and secure better access to healthcare for people experiencing homelessness.