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Article   |    
Social and Physical Health of Homeless Adults Previously Treated for Mental Health Problems
Lillian Gelberg; Lawrence S. Linn
Psychiatric Services 1988; doi:
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The authors thank Robert H. Brook, Virginia A. Clark, Barbara D. Leake, Charles E. Lewis, Beverlee Myers, Charlotte G. Neumann, Marjorie J. Robertson, Lisa V. Rubenstein, Joel Yager, Gregory Albers, Fernando Alvarez, Amir Beshai, David Fischer, Daniel Garcia, and Mitchell Nishimoto; the staff of the shelters, soup kitchens, advocacy centers, and the Venice Family Clinic; and the homeless individuals who participated in this study.

Division of family medicine of the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles

Division of general internal medicine in the department of medicine of the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles

American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

A total of 529 homeless adults in Los Angeles County were surveyed to determine the relation- ship between their previous use of mental health services and their physical health status, utilization of medical services, personal habits affecting health, experience of injury and victimization, and perceived needs. Homeless adults with a previous psychiatric hospitalization were more likely to have experienced serious physical symptoms during the previous month than those who had used only outpatient mental health services or who bad never used mental health services. They reported more reasons for not obtaining needed medical care, were more likely to obtain food from garbage cans, and had the least adequate personal hygiene. However, they did not differ from the other groups on most mea- sures of nutrition, social relations, and financial status. The most frequently expressed needs of the homeless were for improved social relations, employment, shelter, and money.

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