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Substance Use and Psychiatric Problems of Homeless Native American Veterans
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OBJECTIVE: This study estimated the proportion and representation of Native Americans among homeless veterans and compared their psychiatric and substance abuse problems with those of other ethnic groups of homeless veterans. METHODS: The study was based on data from the Department of Veterans Affairs' Health Care for Homeless Veterans program, a national outreach program operating at 71 sites across the country. Alcohol, drug, and psychiatric problems of Native American veterans (N=950) reported during intake assessment were compared with problems reported by white, black, and Hispanic veterans (N=36,938). RESULTS: Native Americans constituted 1.6 percent of veterans in the program. Age-adjusted analyses suggested that relative to the general veteran population (of which 1.3 percent are Native Americans), Native Americans are overrepresented in the homeless population by approximately 19 percent. Regression analyses controlling for demographic characteristics found that Native American veterans reported more current alcohol abuse, more previous hospitalizations for alcohol dependence, and more days of recent alcohol intoxication than members of other ethnic groups. In contrast, Native American veterans reported fewer drug dependence problems than other minority groups and fewer current psychiatric problems and previous psychiatric hospitalizations than the reference group of white homeless veterans. CONCLUSIONS: Native Americans are overrepresented in the homeless veteran population. They have more severe alcohol problems than other minority groups but somewhat fewer psychiatric problems. (Authors)
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services