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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Status of Homeless and Domiciled Low-Income Users of a Medical Clinic
Lawrence S. Linn; Lillian Gelberg; Barbara Leake
Psychiatric Services 1990; doi:
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The authors are grateful to Chris Cassady, Angelique Ferrer, Teresa Garcia, Letitia Ho, Kenneth Howe, and Andrew Wen for data collection and to the staff of the Venice Family Clinic for their cooperation and support. This research was partly supported by the National Research Science Award of the National Center for Health Services Research and Health Care Technology Assessment (NCHSR). The views expressed here are the authors' and do not necessarily reflect those of the NCHSR.

Department of Medicine of the University of California, Los Angeles, The Division of General Internal Medicine

Division of Family Medicine, The Department of Medicine of the University of California, Los Angeles

Division of General Internal Medicine, The Department of Medicine of the University of California, Los Angeles

1990 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Data were collected on indicators of mental health status and substance abuse among 214 homeless and 250 domiciled but impoverished patients who sought care in a community medical clinic in a california beach community. Although both groups had a high prevalence of problems, homeless patients were significantly more likely to have been hospitalized for alcohol or mental problems, to have been arrested because of drinking, and to have experienced delirium tremens. Homeless persons were also more likely to have made a suicide attempt, to have experienced recent psychotic symptoms, and to be dissatisfied with life. The findings suggest that primary medical care settings serving the poor and homeless may present an excellent opportunity for delivering mental health services and that psychiatrists should expand their involvement in such settings.

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