Gender differences in the relationship of homelessness to symptom severity, substance abuse, and neuroleptic noncompliance in schizophrenia

Lewis A. Opler, Leonard White, Carol L.M. Caton, Boanerges Dominguez, Sabina Hirshfield, Patrick E. Shrout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study examined gender differences in the relationship of homelessness in schizophrenia to symptom severity, risk behaviors, and prognostic features. Four hundred subjects with schizophrenia were studied: 100 homeless men, 100 homeless women, 100 never homeless men, and 100 never homeless women. Assessments included derivation of five symptom factors by using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Homelessness for the entire sample was associated with greater severity of positive, activation, and autistic preoccupation symptoms, younger age at first hospitalization, and substance abuse (SA). For men only, homelessness was associated with neuroleptic noncompliance (NN). When NN and SA were statistically controlled, symptom severity was not different between the homeless and never homeless. Women, independent of residential status, had more severe negative, activation, and autistic preoccupation symptoms that were not associated with prognostic features or risk behaviors. For both men and women, SA was associated with homelessness, but independent of residence, SA was less severe in women. Additionally, SA was less severe in homeless women than never homeless men. Thus, symptom severity in homeless individuals with schizophrenia appears as an interaction of symptom profiles and risk behaviors that are gender specific. Although cross-sectional analyses cannot distinguish cause from effect, these findings suggest gender-specific routes to homelessness among indigent urban adults with schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-456
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Volume189
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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