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Home > Research Articles > Homeless face increased death risk

Health Media Ltd

Monday, July 14, 2003

Health Media Ltd - July 11, 2003

Doctors from Copenhagen's Bispebjerg Hospital looked at 750 people staying in two hostels for the homeless in the city during 1991.

The researchers asked the residents about their upbringing, family background, education and psychiatric treatment, and found mortality to be higher in the younger age groups - between 15 and 34 years of age - and particularly among women.

Mortality rates were also significantly higher among homeless people staying only a short time at a hostel or staying more than once during 1991.

The results suggest that this transient population is the most vulnerable and has the highest risk of early death, say the study's authors in the British Medical Journal.

Other predictors of death, they suggest, are adverse childhood experiences - such as the death of a parent - and misuse of drugs and alcohol.

However, they do say that outreach and case management techniques can improve the standards of daily living for homeless people, and argue for the prevention of social exclusion to start earlier in life.

"It is possible to help mentally ill homeless people by providing psychiatric care, food and shelter," say consultants Dr Merete Nordentoft and Dr Nina Wandall-Holm.

The doctors are also calling for new programmes to ensure young drug users receive appropriate psychiatric, detoxification and medical treatment, social advice and accommodation.

To see more focused health-related content, go to http://www.health-news.co.uk

HMG Worldwide 2003