Homelessness amongst psychiatric Inpatients: a cross-sectional study in the mid-west of Ireland



This cross-sectional study sought to establish the prevalence of homelessness amongst inpatients in two psychiatric units in Ireland and explore the perceived relationship between psychiatric illness and homelessness.


The study employed a semi-structured interview format utilising a specifically designed questionnaire which received ethical approval from the Limerick University Hospitals Group ethics committee.


Fifty psychiatric inpatients were interviewed. Fifteen were either “currently” homeless (n = 8) or had experienced “past” homelessness (n = 7). Those who had experienced homelessness were more likely to have a psychotic illness. A majority of those who had experienced homelessness believed that psychiatric illness contributed to their homelessness. Involuntary admission rates were more than double for patients in the homeless group. A number of participants also reported that a lack of accommodation was preventing their discharge.


Homelessness affects a significant number of psychiatric patients and can be both a contributory factor to, and consequence of, mental illness. With homelessness at unprecedented levels, there is a need for the development of tailored programmes aimed at supporting these vulnerable groups.

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Author information




Conceptualisation, N.M., P.OD., C.D., and G.G. Methodology, N.M., P.OD. M.Z., A.B., and G.G. Validation, Formal Analysis, Investigation, N.M, AB, and MZ, Writing—Original Draft Preparation, NM and P.OD. Writing—Review and Editing, C.D., B.K., and G.G.. Supervision, P.OD. and G.G. Project Administration, N.M.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Noreen Moloney.

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Was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Moloney, N., O’Donnell, P., Elzain, M. et al. Homelessness amongst psychiatric Inpatients: a cross-sectional study in the mid-west of Ireland. Ir J Med Sci (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-021-02546-x

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  • Homelessness
  • Inpatient
  • Ireland
  • Involuntary
  • Mental health
  • No fixed abode
  • Psychiatric illness