• Victoria L. Boggiano Stanford University
  • Leslie M. Harris University of Louisville
  • Verena Schmidt University of Louisville
  • Le Quang Nguyen Save the Children
  • Ha An Nguyen Save the Children
  • Michele Barry Stanford University
Keywords: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, youth homelessness, health care access, grounded theory, qualitative analysis


The objective of this study was to explore health-seeking behaviors and barriers faced in accessing care among homeless youth living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Twelve in-depth interviews were conducted with homeless youth aged 18 to 25. Participants were identified using purposive sampling. Data were analyzed using constructivist grounded theory techniques. Interviews with youth revealed that while living on the streets, they had to balance their need for security with attending to their daily survival needs, which led to a disconnection from thinking about their health. When faced with a major health issue, youth turned to their informal networks of support instead of seeking immediate medical care. To manage their basic health needs, youth obtained medicine and health advice from local pharmacies and sought advice from social workers. Homeless youth interviewed in this study relied on an informal network of peers, social workers, and pharmacies when engaging with the health care system. They also faced several barriers to accessing health services, many of which are tied specifically to policies that make homelessness discriminated against in Vietnam. Within Vietnam’s unique political and social context, there is a need for increased collaboration between service providers such as health clinics, local pharmacies, and social workers to provide appropriate health services to this vulnerable population.


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Author Biographies

Victoria L. Boggiano, Stanford University
Medical student, Stanford School of Medicine
Leslie M. Harris, University of Louisville
Assistant Professor, Kent School of Social Work
Verena Schmidt, University of Louisville
Doctoral candidate, Kent School of Social Work
Le Quang Nguyen, Save the Children
Consultant and former program director, Save the Children - Ho Chi Minh City
Ha An Nguyen, Save the Children
Former project office, Save the Children - Ho Chi Minh City
Michele Barry, Stanford University
Senior Associate Dean for Global Health, Director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health, Professor of Medicine at Stanford School of Medicine
How to Cite
Boggiano, V. L., Harris, L. M., Schmidt, V., Nguyen, L. Q., Nguyen, H. A., & Barry, M. (2017). PROTECTING, BALANCING, AND CONFRONTING: HEALTH-SEEKING AMONG HOMELESS YOUTH IN HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 8(3/4), 1-25.