A national survey of the oral health status of homeless veterans

Gretchen Gibson, Robert Rosenheck, John B. Tullner, Rebecca M. Grimes, Catherine L. Seibyl, Angel Rivera-Torres, Harold S. Goodman, Martha E. Nunn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study reports results from a survey designed to (1) assess the oral health needs of a national sample of homeless veterans and (2) compare the dental needs of homeless veterans participating in VA-sponsored rehabilitation programs with domiciled veterans in VA substance addiction programs. Methods: Homeless veterans enrolled in a nationwide rehabilitation program (n=1,152) completed a survey including questions concerning patients' perceptions of their oral health, dental service needs and use, and alcohol and tobacco use. A sample of these veterans (n=281) subsequently received dental exams. A comparison group of domiciled veterans enrolled in VA substance abuse programs (n=339) completed a similar survey. A sample of these veterans (n=150) also received dental exams. Results: Sociodemographic variables, patient-reported oral health information and risk behaviors, and findings from dental exams described two remarkably similar populations. Conclusions: As expected, the homeless veterans exhibited poor oral health, but it was not different from domiciled veterans enrolled in substance addiction programs. Lifestyle choices, such as heavy drinking and smoking, may contribute more to poor oral health than living conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health Dentistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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