Mortality and causes of death among homeless women and men in Stockholm

Scand J Public Health. 2011 Mar;39(2):121-7. doi: 10.1177/1403494810393554. Epub 2011 Jan 19.


Aim: To study the mortality and causes of death among homeless men and women in relation to the risk indicators, previous treatment for alcohol and drug abuse, previous treatment for mental disorders and non-Swedish citizenship.

Methods: The mortality was studied in a cohort comprising 1,757 men and 526 women compared with the general population and persons with inpatient treatment for alcohol- and drug-related disorders. The follow-up period was from 1995 to 1997 until the end of 2005. The causes of death were analyzed.

Results: 421 deaths occurred during the follow-up period. The relative risk of death was 3.1, with no difference in mortality between homeless men and homeless women. Previous treatment for alcohol and drug abuse disorders was related to excess mortality and previous treatment for mental disease to lower mortality. Homeless people with inpatient treatment for alcohol or drug use disorders had no higher mortality than the general population in Stockholm with a similar history. There was a dominance of alcohol- and drug-related causes of death.

Discussion: Compared with previous studies of homeless people in Stockholm the excess mortality among men found in this study is of the same magnitude. Mortality among women is lower. The mortality rate in homeless people with previous treatment for an alcohol and illicit drug use disorder did not differ from those treated for these disorders in the general population.

Conclusions: The most important finding is that excess mortality among homeless men and women in Stockholm is entirely related to alcohol and drug abuse.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Homeless Persons* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / ethnology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / mortality*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Sweden / ethnology
  • Young Adult