Multiple Paths to Just Ends: Using Narrative Interviews and Timelines to Explore Health Equity and Homelessness

Michelle L Patterson, Melinda A Markey, Julian M Somers

Abstract


Special Issues Submission: Equity

Underlying the daily lives of people with experiences of homelessness and mental illness is a complex interplay of individual and structural factors that perpetuate cycles of inequity. The introduction of novel methodological combinations within qualitative research has the potential to advance knowledge regarding the experience of health equity by such individuals and to clarify the relationship between these experiences and broader structural inequities. To explore the lived experience of inequity, we present a thematic analysis of narrative interviews in conjunction with timelines from 31 adults experiencing homelessness and mental illness. Use of these methods together enabled a novel and expanded appreciation for the varied ways in which differential access to the social determinants of health influences the trajectories and experiences of inequity for people who are homeless and mentally ill. The further utility of these methods for better understanding the experience of inequity is explored and implications for research, policy and practice are discussed.

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