Use of Outpatient Mental Health Services by Homeless Veterans After Hurricanes
ABSTRACT Little is known about the impact of hurricanes on people who are homeless at the time a disaster occurs. Although researchers have extensively studied the psychosocial consequences of disaster produced homelessness on the general population, efforts focused on understanding how homeless people fare have been limited to a few media reports and the gray literature. In the event of a hurricane, homeless veterans may be at increased risk for negative outcomes because of their cumulative vulnerabilities. Health care statistics consistently document that homeless veterans experience higher rates of medical, emotional, substance abuse, legal, and financial problems compared with the general population. This study used the 2004 to 2006 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Outpatient Medical Dataset to examine the effects of hurricanes on use of outpatient mental health services by homeless veterans. Homeless veterans residing in hurricane-affected counties were significantly more likely to participate in group psychotherapy (32.4% vs. 13.4%, p < .002), but less likely to participate in individual 30-40-min sessions with medical evaluations (3.5% vs. 17.3%, p < .001). The study findings have implications for homeless programs and the provision of VHA mental health services to homeless veterans postdisaster. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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ABSTRACT: Data are limited regarding mental health effects of disasters such as hurricanes. We sought to determine the prevalence of and major risk factors associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder, and major depressive episode 6 to 9 months after the 2004 Florida hurricanes. Random-digit dialing was used to recruit a representative population sample of 1452 hurricane-affected adults. Posthurricane prevalence for PTSD was 3.6%, for generalized anxiety disorder was 5.5%, and for major depressive episode was 6.1%. Risk factors varied somewhat across disorders, with the exception of previous exposure to traumatic events, which increased risk of all negative outcomes. Storm exposure variables and displacement were associated primarily with PTSD. Notably, high social support in the 6 months preceding the hurricanes protected against all types of disorders.American Journal of Public Health 05/2007; 97 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S103-8. DOI:10.2105/AJPH.2006.087007 · 4.23 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Chronic medical and mental illness and disability increase vulnerability to disasters. National efforts have focused on preparing people with disabilities, and studies find them to be increasingly prepared, but less is known about people with chronic mental and medical illnesses. We examined the relation between health status (mental health, perceived general health, and disability) and disaster preparedness (home disaster supplies and family communication plan). A random-digit-dial telephone survey of the Los Angeles County population was conducted October 2004 to January 2005 in 6 languages. Separate multivariate regressions modeled determinants of disaster preparedness, adjusting for sociodemographic covariates then sociodemographic variables and health status variables. Only 40.7% of people who rated their health as fair/poor have disaster supplies compared with 53.1% of those who rate their health as excellent (P < 0.001). Only 34.8% of people who rated their health as fair/poor have an emergency plan compared with 44.8% of those who rate their health as excellent (P < 0.01). Only 29.5% of people who have a serious mental illness have disaster supplies compared with 49.2% of those who do not have a serious mental illness (P < 0.001). People with fair/poor health remained less likely to have disaster supplies (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.69, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.50-0.96) and less likely to have an emergency plan (AOR 0.68, 95% CI 0.51-0.92) compared with those who rate their health as excellent, after adjusting for the sociodemographic covariates. People with serious mental illness remained less likely to have disaster supplies after adjusting for the sociodemographic covariates (AOR 0.67, 95% CI 0.48-0.93). Disability status was not associated with lower rates of disaster supplies or emergency communication plans in bivariate or multivariate analyses. Finally, adjusting for the sociodemographic and other health variables, people with fair/poor health remained less likely to have an emergency plan (AOR 0.66, 95% CI 0.48-0.92) and people with serious mental illness remained less likely to have disaster supplies (AOR 0.67, 95% CI 0.47-0.95). People who report fair/poor general health and probable serious mental illness are less likely to report household disaster preparedness and an emergency communication plan. Our results could add to our understanding of why people with preexisting health problems suffer disproportionately from disasters. Public health may consider collaborating with community partners and health services providers to improve preparedness among people with chronic illness and people who are mentally ill.Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 03/2009; 3(1):33-41. DOI:10.1097/DMP.0b013e318193be89 · 1.14 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The present study examined survivors' use and misuse of cigarettes and alcohol following Hurricane Katrina. We also examined several psychosocial factors that we expected would be associated with higher or lower rates of substance use following the hurricane. Participants were 209 adult survivors of Hurricane Katrina interviewed in Columbia, SC or New Orleans, LA between October 31, 2005 and May 13, 2006. Results revealed that survivors were smoking cigarettes, consuming alcohol, and experiencing alcohol consumption-related problems at a substantially higher rate than expected based on pre-hurricane prevalence data. Results also suggested that certain psychosocial factors were associated with participants' substance use and misuse following the hurricane.Substance Use & Misuse 10/2009; 44(12):1711-24. DOI:10.3109/10826080902962128 · 1.23 Impact Factor