The prevalence of psychiatric disorders and use of care by homeless people in Paris
- Cite this article as:
- Kovess, V. & Mangin Lazarus, C. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (1999) 34: 580. doi:10.1007/s001270050178
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Background: Homelessness is a growing problem in the cities of the western world, and homeless people have a plethora of mental health and social difficulties. These are, nevertheless, difficult to evaluate epidemiologically. Method: In this paper we present a population survey using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) conducted in the city of Paris in winter 1996 on a representative sample of 838 homeless people. Night shelters as well as food kitchens were randomly sampled, and the mean response rate was around 65%. Results: The sample was relatively young and predominantly male (85%). Forty percent were born outside France, 96% had worked at some time, and one-third reported no resources at all. The lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders was 57.9%, while the 1-year prevalence was 29.1%. For definite psychotic disorders, prevalence was 16% (lifetime) and 6% (1-year). Generally, this Parisian homeless population had some access to care: in the preceding 6 months 57.7% of them had been medically attended and 14.2% of these had been hospitalised. The survey was cross-sectional, and did not evaluate regular access to care or the quality of care. Conclusions: The implications for health and social systems are discussed in the light of comparisons with European and North American data.