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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2008 Mar;42(3):206-13. doi: 10.1080/00048670701827218.

Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder among homeless adults in Sydney.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

International studies indicate high prevalence rates of post-traumatic stress disorder within homeless populations. In Australia, studies indicate high rates of trauma among homeless adults, yet post-traumatic stress disorder has not been investigated in homeless Australian adults. The primary aim of this project was to determine the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among homeless adults in Sydney. Further, another aim of the study was to determine whether the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder preceded the first episode of homelessness or was a consequence of homelessness.

METHOD:

The sample consisted of 70 homeless men and women aged 18-73 years, who were randomly sampled through eight homeless services. A computer-assisted face-to-face structured clinical interview was conducted with each participant. Lifetime prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder was determined via the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

RESULTS:

The majority of the sample had experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime (98%). Indeed, the mean number of traumas per person was six. The 12 month prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder was higher among homeless adults in Sydney in comparison to the Australian general population (41% vs 1.5%). But 79% of the sample had a lifetime prevalence of post-traumatic stress. In 59% of cases, the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder preceded the age of the first reported homeless episode.

CONCLUSIONS:

Homeless adults in Sydney frequently experience trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. The study found that trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder more often precede homelessness, but re-victimization is common. These findings highlight the high mental health needs among homeless people and have implications for services for homeless people.

PMID:
18247195
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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