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Issues Compr Pediatr Nurs. 1997 Jul-Sep;20(3):153-73.

A comparative study of homeless, previously homeless, and never homeless school-aged children's health.

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  • 1Department of Community, Parent-Child, Psychiatric Nursing, College of Nursing, Ohio State University, Columbus, USA.


The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to compare the mental health, physical health, and healthcare practices of homeless, previously homeless, and never homeless poor school-aged children. The sample was comprised of 134 children who ranged in age from 8 to 12 years. The children participated in health assessments and completed two psychometric tests: the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI) (Kovacs, 1985) and the Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCMAS) (Reynolds & Richmond, 1985). Their mothers completed the Child Behavior Problem Checklist (CBCL) (Achenbach, 1991) and participated in an interview. The homeless (n = 67), previously homeless (n = 30), and never homeless children (n = 37) were similar in regard to their health assessment findings, reported health problems, healthcare practices, and CBCL scores. The proportions of homeless and previously homeless children with CDI scores in the clinical range were significantly greater than the never homeless poor children. The homeless children had significantly higher anxiety scores than the previously homeless and never homeless children. All three groups of children were at risk for physical and mental health problems; however, the findings suggest that school-aged children who experience homelessness may be at greater risk for depression and anxiety than never homeless poor children.

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