HYGIENE IS A HUMAN RIGHT: ACCESS TO HYGIENE FACILITIES IN UNSHELTERED INDIVIDUALS AND ITS EFFECTS ON HEALTH
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractUnsheltered individuals are sometimes asked to leave restroom facilities or are not permitted to enter due to their status as being unsheltered. With this, many unsheltered individuals are forced to urinate, defecate, or engage in other hygiene practices outdoors. They may also lack access to necessary hygiene toiletries or wait to urinate or defecate until they are able to gain access to a facility. These challenges can lead to health issues, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), diarrhea, rashes, etc. The purpose of this study was to understand how lack of access to basic hygiene facilities is related to experienced health effects by unsheltered individuals. A verbal survey in English and research protocol was formulated and subsequently approved by the University of Arizona Institutional Review Board to explore the relationship between hygiene and being unsheltered. Each week, the primary researcher went out with the homeless outreach team from El Rio, a trusted organization in the unsheltered community, to verbally consent and recruit participants. Thirty consenting unsheltered adults ranging in ages from twenty-nine to sixty-eight participated. Results of the survey revealed that access to water was the most considerable hygiene barrier, followed by access to soap, concerns for privacy, and concerns for safety. Approximately 37% of participants experienced a UTI at least once since becoming unsheltered and 30% experienced a yeast infection at least once, with female participants having a higher occurrence rate than male participants. In addition, 63% of participants experienced a rash at least once and 57% of participants experienced diarrhea at least once. However, 67% of participants did not seek medical care for their health-related issues. The lack of utilization of medical resources shows a disconnect between health care providers and unsheltered individuals, which demonstrates the need for more socially competent care.
Degree ProgramHealth and Human Values