Do Homeless Veterans Have the Same Needs and Outcomes as Non-Veterans?

VA New England Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, West Haven, CT 06516, USA.
Military medicine (Impact Factor: 0.77). 01/2012; 177(1):27-31. DOI: 10.7205/MILMED-D-11-00128
Source: PubMed


Although veterans have been found to be at increased risk for homelessness as compared to non-veterans, it is not clear whether those who are homeless have more severe health problems or poorer outcomes in community-based supported housing. This observational study compared 162 chronically homeless veterans to 388 non-veterans enrolled in a national-supported housing initiative over a 1-year period. Results showed that veterans tended to be older, were more likely to be in the Vietnam era age group, to be male, and were more likely to have completed high school than other chronically homeless adults. There were no differences between veterans and non-veterans on housing or clinical status at baseline or at follow-up, but both groups showed significant improvement over time. These findings suggest that the greater risk of homelessness among veterans does not translate into more severe problems or treatment outcomes. Supported housing programs are similarly effective for veterans and non-veterans.

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    • "will be transferable to non-veteran homeless populations. Both populations share many of the same health care needs, barriers to health care services, and challenges accessing information technologies (Tsai & Rosenheck, 2012; O'Toole et al., 2003; Tsai, Mares & Rosenheck, 2012). Our research questions were: (1) How accessible are information technologies (e.g., computers, internet, and mobile phones) to homeless Veterans?; and, (2) What level of interest do homeless veterans have in using information technologies to communicate with healthcare providers? "
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: We explored homeless persons' access to and use of information technologies (IT), and their attitudes toward using technologies to communicate with health care providers. METHODS: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 30 homeless veterans. Topics included life priorities, health concerns, use of mobile phones and computers, and perceptions of health-related uses of mobile phones and other IT. RESULTS: Most participants had a mobile phone (90%), used the Internet (70%), and had an email address (72%). Common uses included connecting with family and friends, looking for work, and finding a place to stay. Attitudes toward IT for health-related communication were positive. Participants felt mobile-phone calls or text messages could be used to remind patients of medical appointments, prescription refills, medication taking, and returning for laboratory test results. Participants valued electronic reminders because their lives were disorganized and they had many competing life priorities. They also supported mobile phone caring outreach text messages or calls, i.e. communication from health providers asking how a person is doing. CONCLUSIONS: Most homeless veterans use IT and would be willing to use it for health care. They approve of health clinics communicating with patients via mobile phone, including text messaging. Because homeless persons have many pressing life challenges, even relatively serious health issues may be neglected until a crisis emerges. Mobile technology-assisted outreach from health providers may help prioritize health among this population and lead to improved engagement in care. This could improve overall health and reduce repeated episodes of homelessness common in the population.
    141st APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition 2013; 11/2013
  • Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 07/2012; 40(5). DOI:10.1007/s10488-012-0431-y · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has been increasing efforts to reach out to assist incarcerated veterans. While previous studies have shown strong associations between incarceration and homelessness, few studies have examined distinctive characteristics of incarcerated homeless and non-homeless veterans. National administrative data on 30,348 incarcerated veterans served by the Health Care for Re-entry Veterans (HCRV) program were analyzed. Incarcerated veterans were classified into four groups based on their history of past homelessness: not homeless, transiently homeless, episodically homeless, and chronically homeless. Multinomial logistic regression was used to compare groups on sociodemographic characteristics, criminal justice status, clinical status, and their interest in using VHA services. Of the sample, 70 % were classified as not homeless, 8 % as transiently homeless, 11 % as episodically homeless, and 11 % as chronically homeless. Thus, 30 % of the sample had a homeless history, which is five times the 6 % rate of past homelessness among adult men in the general population. Compared to non-homeless incarcerated veterans, all three homeless groups reported significantly more mental health problems, more substance abuse, more times arrested in their lifetime, more likely to be incarcerated for a non-violent offense, and were more interested in receiving VHA services after release from prison. Together, these findings suggest re-entry programs, like HCRV, can address relevant mental health-related service needs, especially among formerly homeless veterans and veterans in need of services are receptive to the offer of assistance.
    Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 03/2013; 41(3). DOI:10.1007/s10488-013-0483-7 · 3.44 Impact Factor
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