To examine differences in health risks, health outcomes and health services use of Calgary street-involved youth by level of street involvement to inform services planning.
355 street-involved youth (61% male, 26% Aboriginal) completed surveys at a variety of outdoor and agency locations: 46% currently lived on the street, 33% had lived on the street in the past, and 20% were street-involved but had not lived on the street. Odds Ratios (OR) adjusted for sex, ethnocultural group, and age group were calculated for each health/health risk and health service factor by level of street involvement.
With the exception of condom use, significant health and health risk outcome differences were seen by level of street involvement. Use of hospitals and walk-in clinics did not differ significantly by level of street involvement; however, youth living on the street were less likely (OR 0.2) than those who had not lived on the street to use a physician during office hours, and those who had lived on the street were more likely (OR 10.1) to use mobile clinics, services that are targeted to street-involved people.
Street-involved youth who had not lived on the street showed better health/health risk outcomes than those who currently or had lived on the street, and health services use showed some differences by level of street involvement. Public health and other service providers need to be cognizant of their role in providing prevention, safety or stabilization services for youth at different stages of street life.