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Homelessness and mental illness: a descriptive analysis of Vancouver At Home study participants

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The purpose of this paper was to describe the characteristics of the first 186 participants enrolled in the Vancouver At Home study, and compare these characteristics to those found in existing research involving similar samples of homeless, mentally ill individuals. A total of 24 publications were reviewed, their socio-demographic characteristics summarized, and contrasted with the Vancouver At Home study sample. The At Home sample showed similarities to other studies in terms of the distribution gender and age, but differences with respect to ethnic diversity and lifetime duration of homelessness. Results suggest that the emerging sample in Vancouver is representative of the parent population; however, the degree of variability between cities is unclear, thus our ability to generalize about populations across jurisdictions is uncertain. An overall lack of methodological consistency between existing studies underscores the need for improved rigor and standardization in the study of homeless, mentally ill populations.
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