Homeless people's trust and interactions with police and paramedics

Tanya Zakrison, Paul A. Hamel, Stephen W. Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although the health impact of patients' trust in physicians has been well documented, less is known about the possible health effects of trust in police or paramedics. Homeless people frequently interact with police officers and paramedics, and these experiences may affect their health and future willingness to seek emergency assistance. We examined homeless people's self-reported interactions with police and paramedics in Toronto, Canada, and their level of trust in these emergency service providers. In a sample of 160 shelter users, 61% had interacted with police in the last 12 months, and 37% had interacted with paramedics (P=.0001). The proportion of subjects who expressed willingness to call police in an emergency was significantly lower than those willing to call paramedics in an emergency (69% vs. 92%, P=.0001). On a Likert scale ranging from a minimum of 0 to a maximum of 5, trust levels were lower in police than in paramedics (median level 3 vs. 5, P=.0001). Among shelter users, 9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5% to 14%) reported an assault by a police officer in the last year, and 0% (95% CI, 0% to 4%) reported an assault by a paramedic. These findings showed that homeless people have much lower levels of trust in police than paramedics. Reports of negative interactions with police are not uncommon, and homeless people's perceptions of the police may pose a barrier to seeking emergency assistance. Further research is needed for objective characterization of homeless people's interactions with police officers and the potential health implications of low levels of trust in the police.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-605
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Volume81
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

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Allied Health Personnel
Police
police
interaction
police officer
Emergencies
assault
health
Health
assistance
confidence
Emergency Medical Technicians
Confidence Intervals
service provider
physician
Canada

Keywords

  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Homeless persons
  • Police
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Homeless people's trust and interactions with police and paramedics. / Zakrison, Tanya; Hamel, Paul A.; Hwang, Stephen W.

In: Journal of Urban Health, Vol. 81, No. 4, 01.12.2004, p. 596-605.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Zakrison, Tanya ; Hamel, Paul A. ; Hwang, Stephen W. / Homeless people's trust and interactions with police and paramedics. In: Journal of Urban Health. 2004 ; Vol. 81, No. 4. pp. 596-605.
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