The purpose of this study is to identify characteristics of long-term homeless women to determine their public health needs for mental health and drug addition services, STD risk reduction and reduction of risks for battery and abuse. A former study found that homeless attending a medical clinic were four times more likely to have been raped and twice as likely to have been mugged than nonhomeless poor using the same clinic (Linn, Gelberg and Leake, 1990). Exposure to such trauma can affect women's mental and physical health.
Subjects were recruited from a day shelter and several night shelters, and were accepted into the study only if they had been without regular and dependable shelter for at least three months in the past year. Fifty women participated in the two-hour anonymous interview. The subjects in the study had a median length of homelessness of two years. Approximately half did not complete twelve years of schooling. Almost 90% had been battered at some time in their past, but the large majority had a history of abuse prior to their homelessness. Preliminary analysis shows that risk factors for STDs are high in this population as is the use of alcohol and drugs. Further analysis will be directed at determining those factors which increase risks for victimization while homeless.
Principal Investigator: Mel Hovell, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Project Coodinator: Barbara Fisher, M.P.H.