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Homeless Aduks Without Apparent Medical and Psychiatric Impairment: Onset of Morbidity Over Time
Marilyn A. Winkleby; Randall White
Psychiatric Services 1992; doi:
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This research was supported by grants from the Valley Foundation, the Community Foundation of Santa Clara County, the John Arrillaga Foundation, and the Komes Foundation. The authors thank Barry Del Buono of the Emergency Housing Consortium and John Hall of the Health Care for the Homeless Project for access to the study population; Laurie Davis, Diane Fleshin, Rachel Marcus, Laurie Smith, Judy Sherman, and Mary Yang for help collecting the data; Helena Kraemer, Ph. D., Beverly Rockhill, M. A., and Darius Jatulis, M. S., for statistical consuitation; and Erica Frank, M. D., Philip Lewis, M. D., and Andrew Zolopa, M. D., for reviewing the manuscript.

Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, 1000 Welch Road, Palo Alto, California 94304; department of medicine and health research and policy of Stanford University School of Medicine

Silas B. Hays Army Community Hospital at Fort Ord, California

1992 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

A cross-sectional study compared characteristics of homeless adults with and without substance abuse, physical health problems, and history of psycbiatric hospitalization when they first became homeless. Self-report data on demographic characteristics, adverse events in chikihood, and history of medical disorders were collected from 1,399 homeless adults who used three shelters in Santa Clara County, California, during a five-month winter period in 1989 and 1990 (96 percent response rate). A total of 45.6 percent of the respondents reported no impairments when they first became homeless. They were distinguisbed from those with impairments at on set of homelessness by their younger age, minority status, lower educational attainment, and lower frequency of adverse events in childhood. Respondents who reported no impairments when they first became homeless were likely to develop addictive and psychiatric disorders over time. Those who bad been homeless five years or more reported high rates of alcohol abuse (34.5 percent), illegal drug use (24.1 percent), and psychiatric hospitalization (20.7 percent).

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