Psychiatric Illness and Substance Abuse among Homeless Asian-American Veterans
Sabina Lim, Wesley J. Kasprow, and Robert A. Rosenheck
This study examined the proportion of Asian Americans among homeless veterans and among veterans in the general population to calculate the relative risk of homelessness among Asian-American veterans. It also examined differences in rates of psychiatric and substance use disorders between homeless racial and ethnic subgroups. Data were gathered between 1997 and 2001 from the Health Care for Homeless Veterans program and included data from administrative intake, patients' self-reports, and clinicians' diagnostic assessments of substance use disorders and psychiatric illness. Data were examined for 67,441 veterans. Asian-American veterans had a significantly lower risk of homelessness than veterans of other ethnic groups. Alcohol abuse was significantly and consistently less prevalent among Asian Americans compared with blacks and Hispanics. However, drug abuse was less prevalent among Asian Americans than among blacks and Hispanics, but rates were similar to those of whites. Lower rates of alcohol abuse may protect Asian-American veterans from becoming homeless.