Physical Health Status, Substance Use and Abuse, and Mental Disorders Among Homeless Adults

Elmer L. Struening, Deborah K. Padgett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To understand the influence of substance use, substance abuse, and mental disorder on the health status and physical condition of homeless adults, representative samples of 949 men and 311 women residing in the New York City shelter system for homeless adults during the summer of 1987 were interviewed with a structured protocol. A typology of ten groups was identified, based on their profiles on 7 measures of substance use, substance abuse, and mental disorder. Their scores on 16 measures of self‐rated health status and lifetime prevalence of physical conditions were the dependent variables. Results indicated strong associations between the degree and kind of involvement with drugs, alcohol, and mental problems and the respondents' physical health status. Homeless adults characterized by heavy use and abuse of substances and symptoms and/or histories of mental disorder reported the highest rates of poor physical health. Those involved only in the use of substances or in none of the 7 problems consistently reported the best health. Implications of the findings for policy determination are discussed. 1990 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-81
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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