Abstract

BACKGROUND: In England in 2021, an estimated 274 000 people were homeless on a given night. It has long been recognised that physical and mental health of people who are homeless is poorer than for people who are housed. There are few peer-reviewed studies to inform health and social care for depression or anxiety among homeless adults in this setting.

AIMS: To measure the symptoms of depression and anxiety among adults who are homeless and who have difficulty accessing healthcare, and to describe distribution of symptoms across sociodemographic, social vulnerability and health-related characteristics.

METHOD: We completed structured questionnaires with 311 adults who were homeless and who had difficulty accessing healthcare in London, UK, between August and December 2021. We measured anxiety and depression symptoms using the 4-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-4) score. We compared median PHQ-4 scores across strata of the sociodemographic, social vulnerability and health-related characteristics, and tested for associations using the Kruskal-Wallis test.

RESULTS: The median PHQ-4 score was 8 out of 12, and 40.2% had scores suggesting high clinical need. Although PHQ-4 scores were consistently high across a range of socioeconomic, social vulnerability and health-related characteristics, they were positively associated with: young age; food insecurity; recent and historic abuse; joint, bone or muscle problems; and frequency of marijuana use. The most common (60%) barrier to accessing healthcare related to transportation.

CONCLUSIONS: Adults who are homeless and have difficulty accessing healthcare have high levels of depression and anxiety symptoms. Our findings support consideration of population-level, multisectoral intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Pages (from-to)e93
JournalBJPsych Open
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2024

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