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A critical commentary that addresses the needs of vulnerable populations in healthcare: Evidence from mixed methods systematic reviews

Edwards, Deborah ORCID: 2022. A critical commentary that addresses the needs of vulnerable populations in healthcare: Evidence from mixed methods systematic reviews. Cardiff University.
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Background: Although vulnerable populations have been a focus in healthcare research for over 50 years, little research has been conducted that has explored the link between chronic illness and healthcare inequalities. Aim: The aim of this critical commentary is to understand the needs, characteristics and situations that perpetuate health inequalities for vulnerable groups and to explore how health inequalities can be ameliorated. Methodology: The published works contributing to this critical commentary are all mixed methods systematic reviews (MMSRs) which are a review type in the wider family of evidence synthesis. The vulnerable groups covered within this critical commentary include adults living with dementia; adults with physical disabilities; older adults who are physically frail; young people with a mental health condition; and adults at end of life with severe mental illness. A variety of issues were considered that affect these vulnerable populations while navigating the healthcare system upon accessing healthcare including admission and discharge or whilst experiencing care in the acute hospital setting. The vulnerable populations conceptual model (VPCM) was used to provide an organising framework in which I explored factors related to resource availability, relative risks, and health status. Findings: From the wider literature we know that vulnerable populations can encounter substantial challenges navigating healthcare systems which can subsequently lead to delays in diagnosis, higher rates of morbidity and premature mortality. The majority of MMSRs have identified factors relating to resource availability which was conceptualised as interactions and/or relationships with healthcare professionals. This is of concern as the VPCM proposes that those who lack available resources are at increased risk of negative health outcomes leading to additional increase in societal costs and burden. Conclusions: Using the VPCM in this way has potential value to inform healthcare practice, and policy about the opportunities and resources needed to protect the health status of vulnerable populations. It is crucial that healthcare professionals understand the unique challenges involved in caring for potentially vulnerable populations and that they take measures to improve the quality of their interactions so that equitable care and treatment can be provided.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Additional Information: This is the critical commentary section of a PhD by Published Works. The section containing the publications is held by the University Library in print form.
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 November 2022
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 12:03

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