Methods: Data was collected from 169 participants who had previously participated in longitudinal (12 month) observational study of chronically homeless individuals transitioning into PSH. Interviews with participants for the current study were conducted on average 3.41 years after their completion of initial interviews in the parent study. This paper will present descriptive statistics on point-in-time perceived social support and a logistic model that examines predictors of expressed need for additional support.
Results: Sample participants were predominantly African American (59.8%) males (67.5%). The average age was 58.4 years old. Participants reported having on average four individuals they were emotionally close to (sd 3.92) and three individuals they could go to for advice or informational support (sd 4.98). On average, participants reported two individuals they could go to for tangible support (sd 8.14), confide in (sd 3.38), or borrow money from (sd 4.38). A logistic regression model was conducted to analyze predictors for the need of social support, while controlling for race/ethnicity, gender, and age. Among demographic characteristics, those who identified as African American/Black had 2.45 times the odds of needing support compared to participants who identified as Caucasian/White (p<0.05). The two significant predictors of the need for social support were mental illness and hard drug use. Participants who self-reported a mental illness had 3.13 times the odds of needing support compared to participants who did not report a mental illness (p<0.01). While interestingly, participants that used hard drugs were 67% less likely to report needing social support (p<0.05) compared those that did not use hard drugs. Among those who reported needing more support, the most common type of support desired was informational support (80%), followed by someone to confide in (72%), and then emotional support (64%). Additionally, among those who reported needing more support, support was most commonly needed and expected to come from professional providers (68%), followed by friends (55%), and then relative or family members (45%).
Conclusions: While most participants were able to name a few people who provided them with different types of support, the majority reported needing more support (55.62%). The model presented here gives insight that ethnicity/race may have different impacts on the perceived need for support. Most striking is the increased odds of needing support among those who have a mental illness. These findings call for more attention to mental health needs and equity among those who utilize PSH.