Background: Studies in various countries have shown that homeless people have high mortality levels. The aims of this study concerning the French population were to investigate mortality among the homeless and to study their causes of death in comparison to those of the general population.
Methods: A representative sample of 1145 homeless deaths registered by an association was matched to the national database of medical causes of death using common descriptive variables. Log-binomial regression was used to compare mortality among the homeless to that of the general population. Multiple imputation was used to manage missing causes of deaths.
Results: Out of the 1145 registered homeless deaths, 693 were matched to the causes of death database. Homeless deaths were young (average age: 49). Overall, homeless deaths were slightly more frequent during winter. Among all deaths, the probability of being homeless was higher when dying from hypothermia (RR = 6.4), alcohol-related deaths (RR = 1.7), mental disorders, diseases of the digestive and circulatory systems, and undetermined causes (RR from 1.5 to 3.7).
Conclusion: The homeless died at 49 years old on average compared with 77 in the general population in 2008-10. The health of homeless people should be considered not only in winter periods or in terms of alcohol- or cold-related conditions. This study also highlights the need for more precise data to estimate the mortality risks of the homeless in France.
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association. All rights reserved.