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The Perspectives of Non-Profit Social Service Organizations on the Value and Scope of Free Clinic Services: A Qualitative Study

Introduction: Approximately 1 in 11 people are uninsured in the United States. For many that are uninsured with limited health care resources, free clinics may be their only opportunity to seek care. The purpose of this study is to explore the needs of the community through the perspectives of representatives from nonprofit social service organizations that have worked with a free clinic. Methods: Four focus groups were conducted at a free clinic with 20 participants in October-November in 2016. Thematic analysis was performed to identify themes in issues relating to health, most urgent health issues, and ways to improve services for the underserved populations. Results: The free clinic represents a form of community support that could significantly benefit from increased inter-organizational partnerships. Nonprofit social service agencies are particularly well suited to work with free clinics to ensure that emerging health issues in underserved populations are given proper attention. In addition, a number of non-health issues such as lack of affordable housing and healthy literacy are directly impacting the wellness of the community the clinic serves. Discussion: Focus group results indicate a wide range of health and non-health issues which are affecting the wellness of the underserved populations. Nonprofit social service organizations and free clinics are encouraged to bridge resources and prevent duplicate efforts to increase feasibility for the common goal of improving community health outcomes. Conclusion: Future studies should implement and evaluate such inter-organizational collaborations. Future works should also examine the impact of the collaborations on access to care and health outcomes among underserved populations.


Hsien-Wen Meng, Bethany Gull, Jeanie Ashby and Akiko Kamimura

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