Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 90, Issue 4, pp 740–746 | Cite as

Daily Substance Use and Mental Health Symptoms among a Cohort of Homeless Adults in Vancouver, British Columbia

  • Anita PalepuEmail author
  • Michelle Patterson
  • Verena Strehlau
  • Akm Moniruzzamen
  • Jason Tan de Bibiana
  • James Frankish
  • Michael Krausz
  • Julian Somers


Substance use can be a barrier to stable housing for homeless persons with mental disorders. We examined DSM-IV symptoms among homeless adults (N = 497), comparing those who reported daily substance use (DSU) with non-daily substance users. Multivariable linear regression modeling was used to test the independent association between DSU and symptoms using the Colorado Symptom Index total score. DSU was independently associated with higher symptoms (beta = 3.67, 95 % CI 1.55–5.77) adjusting for homelessness history, age, gender, ethnicity, education, marital status, and mental disorder sub-type (adjusted R 2 = 0.24). We observed a higher prevalence of DSU in our sample than has been previously reported in a Housing First intervention. DSU was also independently associated with more DSM-IV symptomatology. We have an opportunity to observe this cohort longitudinally and examine if there are changes in substance use based on treatment assignment and commensurate changes in housing stability, community integration, health status, and quality of life.


Substance use Addiction Homelessness Housing first Mental health DSM-IV 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Palepu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle Patterson
    • 2
  • Verena Strehlau
    • 2
  • Akm Moniruzzamen
    • 2
  • Jason Tan de Bibiana
    • 3
  • James Frankish
    • 3
  • Michael Krausz
    • 4
  • Julian Somers
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, Department of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada
  3. 3.School of Population and Public HealthVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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