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Psychiatric Disorders and Substance Use in Homeless Youth: A Preliminary Comparison of San Francisco and Chicago

Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, 924 East 57th Street, Suite 104, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Government of Australia, Victoria 3001, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Behav. Sci. 2012, 2(3), 186-194;
Received: 16 July 2012 / Revised: 21 August 2012 / Accepted: 24 August 2012 / Published: 30 August 2012
PDF [182 KB, uploaded 30 August 2012]


Youth homelessness is a growing problem in the United States. The experience of homelessness appears to have numerous adverse consequences, including psychiatric and substance use disorders. This study compared the frequencies of psychiatric disorders, including substance use, between homeless youth (18–24 years-old) in San Francisco (N = 31) and Chicago (N = 56). Subjects were administered the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.) to assess DSM-IV-TR diagnoses and substance use disorders. Eighty-seven percent of the San Francisco youth, and 81% of the Chicago youth met criteria for at least one M.I.N.I. psychiatric diagnosis. Nearly two-thirds of the youth in both samples met criteria for a mood disorder. Approximately one-third met criteria for an anxiety disorder. Thirty-two percent of the San Francisco sample and 18% of the Chicago met criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder. Approximately 84% of the San Francisco youth and 48% of the Chicago youth met criteria for a substance-related disorder, and more substances were used by San Francisco youth. In conclusion, the high rate of psychiatric disorders in homeless youth provides clear evidence that the mental health needs of this population are significant. Implications are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: youth homelessness; mental health; substance use youth homelessness; mental health; substance use
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Quimby, E.G.; Edidin, J.P.; Ganim, Z.; Gustafson, E.; Hunter, S.J.; Karnik, N.S. Psychiatric Disorders and Substance Use in Homeless Youth: A Preliminary Comparison of San Francisco and Chicago. Behav. Sci. 2012, 2, 186-194.

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