: Systematic Review - Factors associated with service use across health, mental health, and substance use settings within the homeless population: A systematic review; Empirical Research Project - Experiences of help-seeking using an attachment theory framework: perspectives from individuals experiencing homelessness and professionals who support them

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology


Aims: Individual’s experiencing homelessness encounter significant health inequalities and difficulties accessing services. High levels of compound trauma and insecure attachment style exist within the homeless population. The main aim of this study was to use an attachment framework to explore experiences of help-seeking and service use within the homeless population. This aim was achieved through exploring the experience of accessing services and help-seeking from service-user and service-provider perspectives.
Methods: This study used a qualitative design to explore fourteen participants’ experience of homelessness, and were divided into two cohort groups. The service-user group consisted of six participants who were currently or had previously experienced homelessness. The service-provider group comprised eight professionals who worked within the homelessness sector. Both groups participated in semi-structured interviews and data were analysed using inductive and deductive thematic analysis.
Results: Five main themes were developed from the data analysis. Participant groups commonly discussed adverse life experiences, the impact of these experiences on their view of self and others, development of survival strategies, experiences of help-seeking, need for available and sensitive care, and changes in their view of self and others. Similarities and differences emerged between service-user and service-provider groups within each of these themes. Data were considered in relation to an attachment theory framework.
Conclusions: This study outlines how attachment theory can contribute to understanding experiences of help-seeking within the homeless population. The synthesis of multiple perspectives (service-user and service provider) provides a richer account of these experiences. This may be beneficial in supporting services to adopt more trauma-informed models of service design and delivery.
Date of Award1 Oct 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorTim Meynen (Supervisor) & Steve Parkin (Supervisor)

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