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J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Nurs. 2000 Jul-Sep;13(3):125-32.

Friends and pets as companions: strategies for coping with loneliness among homeless youth.

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School of Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin, USA.



Loneliness and negative health outcomes associated with being homeless and living on the streets.


Qualitative data from 32 homeless youth, ages 16 to 23 years, who participated in focus groups, and a subsample of 10 youth, ages 15 to 23 years, who participated in individual interviews, were analyzed using manifest and content analysis, techniques.


Homeless adolescents who live on the streets or in "squats" described feelings of loneliness that they say "go with the territory." Three themes emerged from the data: how lonely subjects felt, circumstances that provoked feelings of loneliness, and ways of coping with loneliness. Thirteen identified their pets as companions that provided unconditional love, reduced feelings of loneliness, and improved their health status.


Vulnerable adolescents who are homeless often recognize the therapeutic value of pets. Interventions that enhance this coping strategy need to be developed and tested.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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