Mental Health Status and Community Adjustment after Treatment in a Residential Treatment Program for Homeless Veterans

Catherine Leda and Robert Rosenheck

September 1992

An uncontrolled outcome study was conducted to examine clinical improvement and the relationship of psychiatric and substance abuse problems, community adjustment, and housing status among homeless veterans who participated in a multisite residential treatment program. The study was performed at three U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers in Florida, Ohio, and California. Baseline, discharge, and 3-month postdischarge follow-up data were collected for 255 veterans admitted to the Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans Program. Multiple dimensions of outcome were examined, including psychiatric symptoms, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, social contacts, income, employment, and housing. Program participation was found to be associated with improvement in all areas of mental health and community adjustment. Improvement in psychiatric symptoms was associated with superior housing outcomes and improvement in community adjustment. When correlates of improvement in alcohol and drug abuse were examined, only one of eight possible relationships was found to be significant: improvement in alcohol problems was positively associated with improvement in employment. Homeless mentally ill veterans derive clear benefits from participation in a multidimensional residential treatment program. Improvement in mental health problems, however, is weakly linked to improvement in other areas, suggesting that treatment programs may have to attend separately to multiple domains of life adjustment.

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