Alexander C. The culture question: a view from the UK. Ethnic Racial Stud. 2016; 39:(8)1426-1435

Barnardo's. On my own: the accommodation needs of young people leaving care in England. 2014. (accessed 14 September 2021)

Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual Res Psychol. 2006; 3:(2)77-101

Burawoy M. The extended case method. Sociol Theory. 1998; 16:(1)4-33

Centrepoint. More than a number: the scale of youth homelessness in the UK. 2018. (accessed 14 September 2021)

Creswell J, Poth C. Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches.London: Sage Publications; 2017

Denzin N, Lincoln Y. The Sage handbook of qualitative research.: Sage Publications; 2011

Department for Education. Child sexual exploitation: definition and a guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers working to protect children from child sexual exploitation. 2017. (accessed 14 September 2021)

Ensign J. Reproductive health of homeless adolescent women in Seattle, Washington, USA. Women Health. 2001; 31:(2-3)133-151

The many faces of transactional sex: women's agency, livelihoods and risk factors in humanitarian contexts: a literature review. 2016. (accessed 14 September 2021)

Homeless young women and pregnancy: pregnancy in hostels for single homeless people. 2000. (accessed 14 September 2021)

Homeless Link. The unhealthy state of homelessness: health audit results 2014. 2014. (accessed 22 September 2021)

Homeless Link. Young and homeless. 2018. (accessed 14 September 2021)

Local Government Association. Good progress but more to do: teenage pregnancy and young parents. 2018. (accessed 14 September 2021)

A theory of human motivation. 1943a.

Hierarchy of needs. 1943b. (accessed 14 September 2021)

McGregor F, Stretch R, Robinson A, Cannon E, Shawe J. Nurse-led sexual health clinics in hostels for homeless people. Nursing Times. 2018; 114:(5)42-46

Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health. Standards for the management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 2014. (accessed 14 September 2021)

Munro A. Cut fossil fuel links and curb burden on the NHS. Nurs Stand. 2017; 31:(43)

National Crime Agency. County lines violence, exploitation and drug supply. 2017. (accessed 14 September 2021)

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. NICE impact sexual health. 2019. (accessed 14 September 2021)

Ott M. Examining the development and sexual behavior of adolescent males. J Adolesc Health. 2010; 46:(4)S3-11

Public Health England. Spotlight on sexually transmitted infections and screening for chlamydia in England: 2017 data. 2018. (accessed 14 September 2021)

Rogers C. On becoming a person: a therapist's view of psychotherapy.Boston (MA): Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1995

Royal College of General Practitioners. The RCGP curriculum: professional and clinical modules. 2016. (accessed 9 September 2021)

Shelter. Young people and homelessness. 2015. (accessed 9 September 2021)

Springer S. Homelessness: a proposal for a global definition and classification. Habitat Int. 2000; 24:(4)475-484

Stein J, Lu M, Gelberg L. Severity of homelessness and adverse birth outcomes. Health Psychol. 2000; 19:(6)524-534

World Health Organization. Defining sexual health: report of a technical consultation on sexual health. 2006. (accessed 13 September 2021)

Improving the sexual health of young people experiencing homelessness

02 November 2021
Volume 26 · Issue 11


The sexual health needs of young people experiencing homelessness in the UK have not been researched adequately. This study aimed to examine knowledge and attitudes around sexual health and contraceptive use amongst this vulnerable group to develop suitable models of care in the community. A qualitative ethnographic case-study following Burawoy's extended case method was used. Semi-structured interviews with 29 young people experiencing homelessness and five key workers in London hostels were carried out together with ethnographic observations and analysis of documentary evidence. Thematic analysis was undertaken. Demographic data were collected. Three significant themes were identified: risks and extreme vulnerability, relationships and communication difficulties and emergence of a culture of homelessness. Young people experiencing homelessness require specialist delivery of sexual health care in safe surroundings. Initial care should focus on assessment of basic needs and current state of being. Establishing trusting relationships and considering ongoing vulnerability, can help promote meaningful and personalised sexual healthcare both at policy and practice level.

The numbers of young people experiencing homelessness in the UK continue to increase year on year (Homeless Link, 2018) and, in 2018, there were 86 000 people estimated to approach local authorities experiencing homelessness or at risk of it (Centrepoint, 2018). There are many definitions, classifications and reasons for homelessness (Springer, 2000), but, for young people, these include leaving local authority care, being a runaway, repeat involvement with the criminal justice system and a black, minority and ethnic (BME) background (Shelter, 2015).

Young people experiencing homelessness are extremely vulnerable. Further, this situation can make them more susceptible to sexual exploitation (Department for Education (DfE), 2017). Local authorities hold an obligation to ensure housing for those who have been in care because of the extra risks encountered (DfE, 2017). All young people who experienced homelessness within the age groups examined in this study were deemed to be vulnerable.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Community Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for district and community nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month