In one study, more than 8 out of 10 people (85%) who were homeless reported having a chronic health condition. And it's not just people on the street who are affected, according to a long-term Canadian study conducted in several cities, that being in vulnerable housing also contributes to poor health. Disorders affecting joints, ligaments and tendons (such as arthritis) are common among homeless people. A study on chronic pain management among homeless people found that treatment is a challenge due to stress experienced on the street or in shelters, the inability to pay for prescription drugs and poor sleep conditions.
Some refuse to see a doctor because of the pain because of the way they have been treated in the past, and others use drugs or alcohol to cope with the pain because their history of missed appointments or drug use prevents doctors from prescribing over-the-counter pain relievers. As a result, much of the chronic pain in this population goes untreated. Depression rates are also higher among the homeless population, with 22 to 46 percent attempting suicide and up to 61 percent having suicidal thoughts. Contusions, lacerations, sprains, contusions and superficial burns are most commonly reported in the homeless population (TRAUMA in tables 3-1 and 3-.
The results of a 1983 study indicated that approximately 30 percent of the 524 homeless people treated in San Francisco over a 6-month period came forward because of trauma-related injuries (Kelly, 198). Homeless people are at high risk of suffering traumatic injuries (for several reasons). They are often victims of violent crimes such as rape, assault, and attempted robbery. In addition, primitive living conditions carry unusual risks; for example, the use of open chimneys to heat up predisposes them to possible burns.
In addition, homeless young people often have difficulty finding adequate employment. Not only is their education limited, but showers, hygiene products, and interview clothing are often difficult to access. When they get a job, jobs usually pay the minimum wage, which is not a living wage for many. Many of these young people find undeclared employment (“clandestine work”) and some resort to illegal activities to survive.
Homeless young people tend to have more sexual partners and at younger ages, making them more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases. Major mental illnesses, mainly schizophrenia and affective disorders (bipolar and severe depressive disorders), are unlikely to result from the trauma of homelessness. In a 1980 study on tuberculosis among homeless people in New York City (Sherman, 1980), based on the reactivity of tuberculin skin tests and subsequent case findings, 191 people were initially tested. For these reasons, many homeless people are referred to hospitals for hospital care to treat disorders that, in homeless people, could be treated on an outpatient basis.
Wright and Weber (198) found that several chronic physical disorders are almost twice as common among homeless children as among outpatient children in the general population. Invariably, authors who use these instruments report rates of psychological distress in homeless people that are higher than those found in other population groups. These life-threatening problems are especially common among homeless alcoholics and people who abuse other drugs. However, it has not been possible to locate studies on this problem, making it impossible to identify the degree to which mental retardation is present among homeless people.
Other health problems that may result from homelessness or are commonly associated with homelessness include malnutrition, parasitic infestations, dental and periodontal diseases, degenerative joint diseases, venereal diseases, liver cirrhosis secondary to alcoholism and hepatitis infectious related to intravenous (IV) drug abuse. The cases described above exemplify not only how homelessness complicates treatment, but also how the burdens fall on various parts of the social system and on the homeless people themselves. Data from health care program services for the homeless, collected from sites in the country's major cities, show that, regardless of the problem that occurs, primary care professionals also frequently observed a mental or emotional disorder. While many of their classmates are at home during the holidays, many homeless youth are looking for a safe place to sleep, daycare, a job and a meal.
Since this last figure is lower than the sum of the prevalence rates of homeless veterans treated for each diagnosis (33 percent reported being hospitalized for a psychiatric illness, 44 percent for alcoholism, and 14 percent for drug abuse), it appears that many of these hospitalizations were due to double or multiple disease diagnoses (Rosenheck et al. The treatment and rehabilitation of a homeless person with a serious mental illness requires the mobilization of significant financial and professional resources. . .