229273 Health, mental health and developmental outcomes as a function of residential instability: A five-year follow-up of young children in 20 American cities

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jung Min Park , School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Angela Fertig, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
While many homeless children are known to have physical, developmental, and mental health problems, it is unclear whether homelessness exacerbates children's health problems or other adverse life events, such as exposure to violence and extreme poverty, aggravate health problems. Additionally, little is known about the role of doubled-up arrangements, involving moving in with relatives or friends without paying rent, on health outcomes. We examine to what extent homelessness explains differences and changes in children's health outcomes and whether doubled-up children are different from homeless and other low-income groups in their health status.

This prospective cohort design study uses data on children in 20 large U.S. cities followed since their birth. The sample includes 260 homeless, 515 doubled-up, and 2,019 low-income children. Descriptive and logit analyses with GEE estimation are conducted.

Homeless children have a greater likelihood of physical disability (OR=1.65, p<.001) and doubled-up children had a lower likelihood of asthma (OR=0.85, p<.01) and a higher likelihood of emergency room visits (OR=1.25, p<.001). Despite homeless children's higher average rate of emotional/behavioral problems, homelessness did not show an independent effect on mental health.

This study produces national estimates of health status by residential instability for young children and reliable evidence of independent contributions of residential instability on health. High rates of asthma and mental health problems among low-income children, particularly homeless children, suggest the need for early screening and prevention efforts for this vulnerable population. Findings also suggest that children in doubled-up situations need adequate, timely access to healthcare.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe national estimates of health outcomes among young children experiencing residential instability. 2. Understand the effect of residential instability, particularly homelessness and doubled-up situations, on physical, developmental, and mental health outcomes among low-income children. 3. Discuss the ways to address health problems among children in residential instability.

Keywords: Children's Health, Homelessness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have directed the study from conceptualization of the study to developing research design to interpreting the results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.

Back to: 5021.0: Child Health Poster Session