JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Homeless women with psychiatric disorders — a field study]

Iris Torchalla, Friederike Albrecht, Gerhard Buchkremer, Gerhard Längle
Psychiatrische Praxis 2004, 31 (5): 228-35
15243872

AIM: The aim of the study was to investigate the psychosocial situation of all homeless women in a southern German university town.

METHOD: The scope, structure and whereabouts of the target group were initially unknown. 17 of 22 homeless women identified agreed to participate in an extensive study including the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SKID-I).

RESULTS: The prevalence of diagnosed psychiatric disorders was 71 %; the leading disorder was substance abuse/dependence (43 %), followed by anxiety disorders (35 %) and schizophrenia (12 %). Multiple diagnoses were made in 35 % of the women.

DISCUSSION: Striking features were the often early onset of homelessness and the reticence in seeking help. The flight from violence was a crucial precipitant of the loss of the home and should also be discussed in the context of the development of the psychiatric disorders. This study is the first involving women outside major cities. Precipitant situation, need for help and help-seeking pattern appear to deviate markedly from those of homeless men. The results should be verified in further gender-specific studies.

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