Research Reports - Adverse outcomes among homeless adolescents and young adults who report a history of traumatic brain injury

Am J Public Health. 2014 Oct;104(10):1986-92

Mackelprang JL(1), Harpin SB, Grubenhoff JA, Rivara FP

OBJECTIVES: We examined the prevalence of self-reported traumatic brain injury
(TBI) among homeless young people and explored whether sociodemographic
characteristics, mental health diagnoses, substance use, exposure to violence, or
difficulties with activities of daily living (ADLs) were associated with TBI.
METHODS: We analyzed data from the Wilder Homelessness Study, in which
participants were recruited in 2006 and 2009 from streets, shelters, and
locations in Minnesota that provide services to homeless individuals.
Participants completed 30-minute interviews to collect information about history
of TBI, homelessness, health status, exposure to violence (e.g., childhood abuse,
assault), and other aspects of functioning.
RESULTS: Of the 2732 participating adolescents and young adults, 43% reported a
history of TBI. Participants with TBI became homeless at a younger age and were
more likely to report mental health diagnoses, substance use, suicidality,
victimization, and difficulties with ADLs. The majority of participants (51%)
reported sustaining their first injury prior to becoming homeless or at the same
age of their first homeless episode (10%).
CONCLUSIONS: TBI occurs frequently among homeless young people and is a marker of
adverse outcomes such as mental health difficulties, suicidal behavior, substance
use, and victimization.

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