Comparability and Representativeness of Clinical Homeless, Community Homeless, and Domiciled Clinic Samples

Physical and Mental Health, Substance Use, and Health Services Utilization

Published in: Health Psychology, v. 16, no. 2, Mar. 1997, p. 155-162

Posted on RAND.org on March 01, 1997

by Judith Stein, Lillian Gelberg

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Evaluating the representativeness of homeless samples is important for generalizing research findings on the homeless and designing interventions targeting their health needs. The present study contrasts homeless and domiciled free-clinic users (216 homeless [132 men, 84 women], 212 domiciled [102 men, 110 women]) and 531 community homeless persons (388 men, 143 women) on latent variables representing substance use, mental and physical health, appearance, life satisfaction, and health services utilization (HSU). Homeless clinic patients equalled the community sample in substance abuse and psychological problems but exceeded the sample in HSU and cleanliness. Homeless clinic users reported more substance abuse, poorer health, greater mental illness and mental HSU, less cleanliness, and lower life satisfaction than domiciled patients. Relationships among the variables are reported, and implications concerning health needs among the homeless are discussed.

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