Social Support and Service Use among Homeless Persons with Serious Mental Illness
Julie A. Lam and Robert Rosenheck
It has been widely hypothesized that persons with greater social support use fewer health care services, although previous studies have shown variable results. This study examines the relationship between levels of social support and formal service use among clients entering 18 community treatment programs for homeless persons with serious mental illness as part of the ACCESS demonstration project of the U.S. Center for Mental Health Services. Baseline and follow-up data on 1,828 clients entering the ACCESS program were used to evaluate the relationship between individual client socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, seven measures of social support, and levels of formal service use in this population. Three measures of social support were positively related to the use of outpatient medical services and one each to the use of substance abuse services and the total days of service use. Six out of seven measures of social support were positively related to the receipt of multiple services. It appears that social support is most strongly associated with improved access to an array of different services - a very important need among this population.