Predictors of Medical or Surgical and Psychiatric Hospitalizations Among a Population-Based Cohort of Homeless Adults

Objectives. We identified factors associated with inpatient hospitalizations among a population-based cohort of homeless adults in Toronto, Ontario.

Methods. We recruited participants from shelters and meal programs. We then linked them to administrative databases to capture hospital admissions during the study (2005–2009). We used logistic regression to identify predictors of medical or surgical and psychiatric hospitalizations.

Results. Among 1165 homeless adults, 20% had a medical or surgical hospitalization, and 12% had a psychiatric hospitalization during the study. These individuals had a total of 921 hospitalizations, of which 548 were medical or surgical and 373 were psychiatric. Independent predictors of medical or surgical hospitalization included birth in Canada, having a primary care provider, higher perceived external health locus of control, and lower health status. Independent predictors of psychiatric hospitalization included being a current smoker, having a recent mental health problem, and having a lower perceived internal health locus of control. Being accompanied by a partner or dependent children was protective for hospitalization.

Conclusions. Health care need was a strong predictor of medical or surgical and psychiatric hospitalizations. Some hospitalizations among homeless adults were potentially avoidable, whereas others represented an unavoidable use of health services.

Publication Date: 
In Press
Journal Name: 
American Journal of Public Health
Toronto, ON, Canada