Chronically Homeless Women Report High Rates of Substance Use Problems Equivalent to Chronically Homeless Men
VA New England Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, West Haven, Connecticut 06516, USA. Women s Health Issues
(Impact Factor: 2.33).
06/2011; 21(5):383-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.whi.2011.03.004
The U.S. federal government recently committed itself to ending chronic homelessness within 5 years. Women constitute one out of four chronically homeless adults and represent a particularly vulnerable group, but have been little studied. To identify potentially unique needs in this group, we report characteristics and 2-year outcomes in a large sample of male and female chronically homeless adults participating in a multisite, supportive housing program.
Men and women participating in the outcome evaluation of the 11-site Collaborative Initiative on Chronic Homelessness (n = 714) supportive housing program and who received at least one follow-up assessment were compared on baseline characteristics and up to 2-year follow-up outcomes. Mixed model multivariate regression adjusted outcome findings for baseline group differences.
Few significant baseline differences existed between males and females, with both sexes self-reporting very high rates of lifetime mental health (83% women, 74% men) and substance use (68% women, 73% men) problems. Throughout the 2-year follow-up, both men and women dramatically increased the number of days housed, showed minimal changes in substance use patterns, and had modest improvements in mental health outcomes, without significant differences between genders.
Unlike other U.S. populations, chronically homeless adults do not demonstrate substantial gender differences on mental health or addiction problems. Policy and service delivery must address these remarkably high rates of substance use and mental illness.
Available from: Michelle Patterson
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ABSTRACT: Substance use can be a barrier to stable housing for homeless persons with mental disorders. We examined DSM-IV symptoms among homeless adults (N = 497), comparing those who reported daily substance use (DSU) with non-daily substance users. Multivariable linear regression modeling was used to test the independent association between DSU and symptoms using the Colorado Symptom Index total score. DSU was independently associated with higher symptoms (beta = 3.67, 95 % CI 1.55–5.77) adjusting for homelessness history, age, gender, ethnicity, education, marital status, and mental disorder sub-type (adjusted R
2 = 0.24). We observed a higher prevalence of DSU in our sample than has been previously reported in a Housing First intervention. DSU was also independently associated with more DSM-IV symptomatology. We have an opportunity to observe this cohort longitudinally and examine if there are changes in substance use based on treatment assignment and commensurate changes in housing stability, community integration, health status, and quality of life.
Available from: Tim Aubry
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ABSTRACT: We examined the prevalence of substance use disorders among homeless and vulnerably housed persons in three Canadian cities and its association with unmet health care needs and access to addiction treatment using baseline data from the Health and Housing in Transition Study.
In 2009, 1191 homeless and vulnerably housed persons were recruited in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa, Canada. Interviewer administered questionnaires collected data on socio-demographics, housing history, chronic health conditions, mental health diagnoses, problematic drug use (DAST-10≥6), problematic alcohol use (AUDIT≥20), unmet physical and mental health care needs, addiction treatment in the past 12 months. Three multiple logistic regression models were fit to examine the independent association of substance use with unmet physical health care need, unmet mental health care need, and addiction treatment.
Substance use was highly prevalent, with over half (53%) screening positive for the DAST-10 and 38% screening positive for the AUDIT. Problematic drug use was 29%, problematic alcohol use was lower at 16% and 7% had both problematic drug and alcohol use. In multiple regression models for unmet need, we found that problematic drug use was independently associated with unmet physical (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.95; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.43-2.64) and unmet mental (AOR 3.06; 95% CI 2.17-4.30) health care needs. Problematic alcohol use was not associated with unmet health care needs. Among those with problematic substance use, problematic drug use was associated with a greater likelihood of accessing addiction treatment compared to those with problematic alcohol use alone (AOR 2.32; 95% CI 1.18-4.54).
Problematic drug use among homeless and vulnerably housed individuals was associated with having unmet health care needs and accessing addiction treatment. Strategies to provide comprehensive health services including addiction treatment should be developed and integrated within community supported models of care.
Available from: Julian M Somers
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We examined the relationship between substance dependence and residential stability in homeless adults with current mental disorders 12 months after randomization to Housing First programs or treatment as usual (no housing or support through the study).
The Vancouver At Home study in Canada included 2 randomized controlled trials of Housing First interventions. Eligible participants met the criteria for homelessness or precarious housing, as well as a current mental disorder. Residential stability was defined as the number of days in stable residences 12 months after randomization. We used negative binomial regression modeling to examine the independent association between residential stability and substance dependence.
We recruited 497 participants, and 58% (n = 288) met the criteria for substance dependence. We found no significant association between substance dependence and residential stability (adjusted incidence rate ratio = 0.97; 95% confidence interval = 0.69, 1.35) after adjusting for housing intervention, employment, sociodemographics, chronic health conditions, mental disorder severity, psychiatric symptoms, and lifetime duration of homelessness.
People with mental disorders might achieve similar levels of housing stability from Housing First regardless of whether they experience concurrent substance dependence.
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