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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Quality of life themes in Canadian adults and street youth who are homeless or hard-to-house: A multi-site focus group study

Anita Palepu1*, Anita M Hubley2, Lara B Russell2, Anne M Gadermann1 and Mary Chinni2

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, St. Paul’s Hospital & University of British Columbia, 620B-1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, V6Z 1Y6, Canada

2 Department of ECPS, University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2012, 10:93  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-10-93

Published: 15 August 2012



The aim of this study was to identify what is most important to the quality of life (QoL) of those who experience homelessness by directly soliciting the views of homeless and hard-to-house Canadians themselves. These individuals live within a unique social context that differs considerably from that of the general population. To understand the life areas that are most important to them, it is critical to have direct input from target populations of homeless and hard-to-house persons.


Focus groups were conducted with 140 individuals aged 15 to 73 years who were homeless or hard-to-house to explore the circumstances in which they were living and to capture what they find to be important and relevant domains of QoL. Participants were recruited in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver. Content analysis was used to analyze the data.


Six major content themes emerged: Health/health care; Living conditions; Financial situation; Employment situation; Relationships; and Recreational and leisure activities. These themes were linked to broader concepts that included having choices, stability, respect, and the same rights as other members of society.


These findings not only aid our understanding of QoL in this group, but may be used to develop measures that capture QoL in this population and help programs and policies become more effective in improving the life situation for persons who are homeless and hard-to-house.

Quality of life themes in Canadian adults and street youth who are homeless or hard-to-house: A multi-site focus group study.

Homeless; Quality of life; Hard-to-house