Mental Disorder and Comorbidity Among Runaway and Homeless Adolescents

This study focuses on co-occuring disorders among homeless and runaway youth, in four mid-western cities.


To investigate prevalence of mental disorder and comorbidity among homeless and runaway adolescents in small to medium sized cities in four Midwestern states.


The study presents lifetime, 12-month prevalence, and comorbidity rates for five mental disorders (conduct disorder, major depressive episode, posttraumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse) based on UM-CIDI and DISC-R structured interviews from the baseline interviews of a longitudinal diagnostic study of 428 (187 males; 241 females) homeless and runaway adolescents aged 16–19 years (mean AGE = 17.4 years, SD = 1.05). The data were collected by full-time street interviewers on the streets and in shelters in eight Midwestern cities of various populations. Separate logistic regression models were used to investigate factors associated with meeting criteria for any disorder and two or more disorders.


Lifetime prevalence rates were compared with rates for same-aged respondents from the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS). Homeless and runaway adolescents were six times more likely than same-aged NCS respondents to meet criteria for two or more disorders and were from two to 17 times more likely to meet criteria for individual disorders than.


Homeless and runaway adolescents in small and mid-sized Midwestern cities report significant levels of mental disorder and comorbidity that are comparable and often exceed that reported in studies of larger magnet cities. (Authors)

Publication Date: 
Journal Name: 
Journal of Adolescent Health