Social and physical health of homeless adults previously treated for mental health problems

Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1988 May;39(5):510-6. doi: 10.1176/ps.39.5.510.


A total of 529 homeless adults in Los Angeles County were surveyed to determine the relationship between their previous use of mental health services and their physical health status, utilization of medical services, personal habits affecting health, experience of injury and victimization, and perceived needs. Homeless adults with a previous psychiatric hospitalization were more likely to have experienced serious physical symptoms during the previous month than those who had used only outpatient mental health services or who had never used mental health services. They reported more reasons for not obtaining needed medical care, were more likely to obtained food from garbage cans, and had the least adequate personal hygiene. However, they did not differ from the other groups on most measures of nutrition, social relations, and financial status. The most frequently expressed needs of the homeless were for improved social relations, employment, shelter, and money.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Health Services Research*
  • Health Status*
  • Health*
  • Homeless Persons / psychology*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Income
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena