A history in-care predicts unique characteristics in a homeless population with mental illness

Multiple studies of homeless persons report an increased prevalence of a history in-care, but there is a dearth of information on associated outcomes or relevant demographic profiles. This information is critical to understanding if certain individuals are at elevated risk or might benefit from specific intervention. Here, we investigate how a history in-care relates to demographics and multiple outcome measures in a homeless population with mental illness. Using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI), the Short-Form 12, and a trauma questionnaire, we investigated baseline differences in demographics and length of homelessness in the At Home/Chez Soi Trial (N = 504) Winnipeg homeless population with and without a history in-care. Approximately 50% of the homeless sample reported a history in-care. This group was significantly more likely to be young, female, married or cohabitating, of Aboriginal heritage, have less education, and have longer lifetime homelessness. Individuals of Aboriginal heritage with a history in-care were significantly more likely to report a familial history of residential school. Individuals with a history in-care experienced different prevalence rates of Axis 1 mental disorders. Those with a history in-care also reported significantly more traumatic events (particularly interpersonal). A distinctive high-risk profile emerged for individuals with a history in-care. Sociocultural factors of colonization and intergenerational transmission of trauma appear to be particularly relevant in the trajectories for individuals of Aboriginal heritage. Given the high prevalence of a history in-care, interventions and policy should reflect the specific vulnerability of this population, particularly in regards to trauma-informed services.

Publication Date: 
In Press
Journal Name: 
Child Abuse & Neglect
Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada