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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing
5004.0: Wednesday, November 07, 2007 - Board 5

Abstract #157605

Homelessness and mental health needs in Chile: A preliminary asssessment

Elie S. Valencia, JD, MA, Epidemiology Department, Columbia University, 722 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, 212 3059412, esv1@columbia.edu and Helga V. Saez, MD, Reinier van Arkel Psychiaitric Services, St. Jorisstraat 11, 5211HA, 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.

Objective: To shed light on the mental health needs and characterisitcs of homeless people in Chile. Homelesness in Chile is a considerable social problem affecting major urban areas, particularly the capital ciy of Santiago. Methods: We utilized a two-pronged approach to carry out this preliminary assessment. First, we carried out unstructured interviews with homeless people and workers working with marginalized, poor and mentally ill populations in urban areas of Chile. Second, we analysed and segmented the data collected by a recent first national survey of homelessness. This survey estimates that 7,254 individuals are homeless in the 80 most populated counties of the country, a ratio of 6.8 per 10,000 (Mideplan 2005). About half of them are in the city of Santiago (47.7%). Results: Our qualitative field interviews indicate that there is a high incidence of psychiatric problems, a striking over-representation of eldery people, and scarcety of services for the homeless population. The breakdown of the data of the fisrt homeless survey indicates that most of them are males (85%) and are older than 30 years (78.7%). More than a quarter is 60 year or older. More that half of them report having psychiatric and/or substance abuse problems: 12,7% reports a psychiatric and/or mental retardation disorder, 16,4% a nervous psychological problem, and 32.6 % reports alcohol abuse and 9.6% a drug abuse. Conclusion: There is an urgent need to study and developed services addresing the specialized needs of the urban homeless population in Chile, particularly mental health and elderly services.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Homelessness, International Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Issues Related to the Design, Implementation, and Effectiveness of Health Services for Homeless Populations

The 135th APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 3-7, 2007) of APHA